I thought that I had to decide between [how I] identify and [my] career.
December 28, 2017 7:05 PM   Subscribe

 
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I read earlier today on twitter that one thing he did in the days before dying was make sure he had written all the letters of recommendation he had promised for students and colleagues in his lab. Someone who is as amazing a scientist as Dr. Barres was could go on to wild success in academia without also being being a kind person and a good mentor, it's so heartening to see that it is possible to do all those things.
posted by ChuraChura at 7:29 PM on December 28, 2017 [81 favorites]


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I read earlier today on twitter that one thing he did in the days before dying was make sure he had written all the letters of recommendation he had promised for students and colleagues in his lab.

Now that's a class act.
posted by tobascodagama at 7:54 PM on December 28, 2017 [7 favorites]


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From the second linked article (which, fair warning, does odd things with pronouns): 'The day after his diagnosis, “Ben was working as hard as he could to identify transition plans for all the people in his lab, to make sure that on the day he died, there would be a safety net for them. His first thought was to try to help them,” recalls Stanford neurobiologist Tom Clandinin, who took over as department chair.'

He sounds like an amazing man.
posted by Athanassiel at 8:00 PM on December 28, 2017 [10 favorites]


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I remember his thoughtful writing about his experiences pre/post transition, and how he used his voice to speak up against all the myths behind underrepresentation in STEM.
posted by janell at 8:07 PM on December 28, 2017 [4 favorites]


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posted by lalochezia at 8:11 PM on December 28, 2017


I knew of his work, from early days, and admired it, as well as his later advocacy and powerful voice as a dichotomy-breaking example of gender bias' existence and further, how to combat it. For that, alone, I will miss him.
But as others have noted above, when his Stanford obituary noted how deeply committed he was to making sure all his recommendation letters were going to be there for his mentees, I fucking lost it. This is truly the mark of an exemplary scientist, pedagogue and human being: making sure he has done all he can for those who worked for and alongside him... looking out for their interests beyond when he is not there to do so himself.
What a selfless, admirable mensch, and what a loss to his loved ones, and the research community.
posted by Cold Lurkey at 8:22 PM on December 28, 2017 [10 favorites]


What a loss. He was far too young. I'm glad he was able to inspire and help so many younger colleagues.

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posted by rtha at 8:23 PM on December 28, 2017 [2 favorites]


Is the title of this post supposed to be a quote? Is it a misquote or typo i.e., is it supposed to be "I thought that I had to decide between identity and career" (and not "identify and career")? If so, can a mod please fix it? Thanks!
posted by ElKevbo at 8:32 PM on December 28, 2017


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posted by Songdog at 8:46 PM on December 28, 2017


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posted by praemunire at 9:10 PM on December 28, 2017


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posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 9:19 PM on December 28, 2017


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posted by lilies.lilies at 9:19 PM on December 28, 2017


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(I wish I could ASCII art enough to make a good neuron with a period in the middle.)
posted by Samizdata at 9:56 PM on December 28, 2017


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posted by LeftMyHeartInSanFrancisco at 10:05 PM on December 28, 2017


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posted by BlueBlueElectricBlue at 10:24 PM on December 28, 2017


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posted by Coaticass at 11:32 PM on December 28, 2017


Truly a man among men. His story has been a huge inspiration to me as an engineer and human being.

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posted by potrzebie at 12:10 AM on December 29, 2017


One of the greats. The world is poorer for his passing, but so much richer for he achieved when he was alive.

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posted by Dysk at 12:42 AM on December 29, 2017 [1 favorite]


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Ben Barres previously and previously.
posted by kyrademon at 2:45 AM on December 29, 2017 [1 favorite]


Is the title of this post supposed to be a quote?
It appears it is a quote:
When I decided to change sex 15 years ago I didn't have role models to point to. I thought that I had to decide between identify and career. I changed sex thinking my career might be over.
posted by pulposus at 2:53 AM on December 29, 2017 [3 favorites]


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posted by GenjiandProust at 2:57 AM on December 29, 2017


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(Also, it's 2017 -- how fucking hard is it not to deadname a guy in his own obituary? At least the Stanford obit got it right...)
posted by haltingproblemsolved at 3:31 AM on December 29, 2017 [15 favorites]


20 months is a long haul with pancreatic, too. My mother-in-law was diagnosed and died a month later.
posted by smallerdemon at 3:51 AM on December 29, 2017


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posted by hydropsyche at 3:58 AM on December 29, 2017


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posted by notreally at 6:25 AM on December 29, 2017


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Fuck.
posted by RhysPenbras at 6:44 AM on December 29, 2017


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posted by leslies at 6:58 AM on December 29, 2017


That Discover article, oof. She, she, she, she. JFC stop it.

Otherwise, such great tributes to a great scientist. Marc Tessier-Lavigne's piece is beautiful.
posted by desuetude at 7:12 AM on December 29, 2017 [2 favorites]


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posted by magstheaxe at 7:21 AM on December 29, 2017


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posted by galaxy rise at 7:27 AM on December 29, 2017


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posted by Cash4Lead at 7:31 AM on December 29, 2017


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posted by oceanjesse at 8:10 AM on December 29, 2017


Yes, the Discover article and pronouns is terrible. I decided to include it because it seemed to describe his science as well as his life in a nice way, but perhaps that was a mistake.

Perhaps the mods could change the title to:
"I thought that I had to decide between [how I] identify and [my] career"
posted by lab.beetle at 10:16 AM on December 29, 2017


[Title nudged!]
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:27 AM on December 29, 2017


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posted by get off of my cloud at 10:33 AM on December 29, 2017


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posted by ubersturm at 2:03 PM on December 29, 2017


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posted by Dashy at 7:28 AM on December 30, 2017


Oh no.

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posted by joycehealy at 9:52 AM on December 30, 2017


A great loss for science, which we can ill afford.

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posted by All hands bury the dead at 1:52 PM on December 30, 2017


When I decided to change sex 15 years ago I didn't have role models to point to. I thought that I had to decide between identify and career. I changed sex thinking my career might be over.

The lack of any kind of positive role models at all for trans people is a gigantic problem. When people try to tell me it isn't that bad or people don't really think these awful things about trans people, I ask them to name any readily identifiable trans role model, fictional or not.

I have yet to meet someone who can, even some of the most supportive allies. They've never had to think about it in terms like this, like "who do I have in my life that I can look up to as an example?"

Caitlyn Jenner definitely does not count. Neither does Ru Paul, who isn't even trans and is a caricature of trans identity.

Instead we get Frank N. Furter (rapist, murderer, however campy) and James Gumb (serial killer, skinsuit wearer) and the butt of a lot of jokes about sissies and dresses... and that's about it. Oh, there's Hedwig, I guess, but they're a hot mess and has some of the same campy-funny problems that Rocky Horror does.

And the thought of even hoping for a normal job or career after transitioning is what keeps a lot of people in the closet. It's not just brave, it's still effectively social and career suicide.

And the few role models trans people do have tend to go fully stealth and undercover and aren't really open about it, and they are often erased from history as being trans. (Say, Wendy Carlos.)

I'm not sure what things are like for FTM transmen, but I suspect it might even be worse for them, considering the status quo of being masculine being what it is.

I do know that for MTF transwomen, they're aren't really any positive role models in pop culture. Just shitty jokes.
posted by loquacious at 2:09 PM on December 30, 2017 [7 favorites]


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posted by porpoise at 8:05 PM on December 30, 2017


I think this is a good obituary from the Washington Post about him. It's titled: 'A towering legacy of goodness': Ben Barres's fight for diversity in science.
posted by colfax at 3:54 AM on January 1


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posted by bettafish at 4:22 AM on January 1


There's a small number of women you can point to now: Laverne Cox, the Wachowskis. On the other side: there's Ruby Rose, I guess, but she's waffled and isn't in the same category anyway. All the other possible names I can think of are visible within LGBT circles but not broader pop culture.
posted by vibratory manner of working at 2:50 PM on January 1


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