Ben Barres, a neuroscientist who did groundbreaking work on brain cells known asglia and their possible relation to diseases like Parkinson’s, and who was an
outspoken advocate of equal opportunity for women in the sciences, died on Wednesday at his home in Palo Alto, Calif. He was 63. Dr. Barres was transgender, having transitioned from female to male in 1997,when he was in his 40s and well into his career.
He did not disagree that there are differences between male and female brains,but did object to the interpretation.“People are still arguing over whether there are cognitive differences between men and women,” he told The Times. “If they exist, it’s not clear they are innate, and if they are innate, it’s not clear they are relevant.”
Or, as he put it in a 2015 letter to The Times prompted by an article about Caitlyn Jenner, “The question is not whether male or female brains are different, but why society insists on labeling male brains as better.”