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Publisher's Summary

Ben Barres was known for his groundbreaking scientific work and for his groundbreaking advocacy for gender equality in science. In this book, completed shortly before his death from pancreatic cancer in December 2017, Barres (born Barbara Barres in 1954) describes a life full of remarkable accomplishments - from his childhood as a precocious math and science whiz to his experiences as a female student at MIT in the 1970s to his female-to-male transition in his 40s to his scientific work and role as teacher and mentor at Stanford. 

Barres recounts his early life - his interest in science, first manifested as a fascination with the mad scientist in Superman; his academic successes; and his gender confusion. Barres felt even as a very young child that he was assigned the wrong gender. After years of being acutely uncomfortable in his own skin, Barres transitioned from female to male. As an undergraduate at MIT, Barres experienced discrimination, but it was after transitioning that he realized how differently male and female scientists are treated. This led him to become an advocate for gender equality in science.

©2018 Society for Neuroscience (P)2018 HighBridge, a division of Recorded Books

What listeners say about The Autobiography of a Transgender Scientist

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  • Emery
  • 02-08-2020

Not worthless, but better read than listened to

I want to stress that this isn’t an inherently bad book. For a far more educated and scientific mind, this would be fascinating. Sadly, I went into it with the hope that the primary focus would be the narrative of a transgender man succeeding in an exciting and challenging field. The focus was so heavy on the science and story so laden with acronyms I didn’t know, I found myself pausing to look up terms nigh constantly making the audiobook impossible to finish. I hope to try again with the print version. The transgender narrative is there, but if you go into this book expecting most, or even half of it to be focused on this topic, however, you are setting yourself up for disappointment.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 13-10-2019

Ben Barres’ autobiography breaks barriers for all

Reading this very personal story was a great privilege. It touched me personally as a scientist, mentor, female, and person of color. Thank you Ben Barres for the many lessons you’ve taught us and the great legacy you’ve left for us that includes an amazing number of scientific children! Imas a reader, if you want to live in a world where gender bias is a thing of the past in all walks of life this is a must read!

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  • Mon_R
  • 19-10-2018

Inspiring

A great treatise in humanity, inequality and tolerance in a life of a fellow believer of the greatness of scientific discovery. May his soul finds rest.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 06-07-2021

A lot of in-depth science

The book was interesting but it focused too much on science, so much so that this felt like a book for neuroscientists and less for ordinary ppl.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 09-04-2020

Too much scientific gibberish

I wanted to hear a little more detail about what happened during his transition besides just about his career the majority of the book. There were many scenarios where Ben talked about how he was being sexualized but left out specific context . I expected the book to be more about his transition than his whole college education three times over . Towards the end of the book, he mentioned what went on during his mentorship with students and just talked all scientifically as if we knew his knowledge. Overall, I wouldn't say this read was a waste but if it wasn't an assignment I probably wouldn't have read it .

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  • Lynn
  • 04-04-2020

Some chapters very technical

Good story but there is a section that is very technical, about the research his team has been working on, that was mostly over my head. But story before and after this is inspiring!

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  • Lauren
  • 11-02-2021

Very hard to listen to

I'm convinced the narrator is a robot or computer. His voice is very flat and as a huge chunk of the book is more focused on science than gender/his transition it makes it a very hard listen. Couldn't listen to the whole thing so can't rate the story really

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