A few months ago, in Bullish: When Men Are Too Emotional to Have a Rational Argument, I twice quoted Ben Barres on whether women are truly “more emotional” and on the idea that society is biased in favor of “pushy, aggressive people.”
In researching the article, I read everything I could find on Barres, who transitioned from female to male while working in science. In the 2006 New York Times piece Dismissing ‘Sexist Opinions’ About Women’s Place in Science, Barres answered this question:
Q. You write that as a man, you can complete a sentence without being interrupted. Are you treated differently in other ways?
A. It’s when people don’t know that I was a woman that I can really see the difference. Even in just stupid things. You go into a department store and people are more likely to wait on you.
In my own article, I ended up quoting Barres, “neuroscientist who transitioned from female to male,” as saying:
It is just patently absurd to say women are more emotional than men. Men commit 25 times the murders; it’s shocking what the numbers are. And if anyone ever sees a woman with road rage, they should write it up and send it to a medical journal.
A Twitter follower wrote, “Nice article, but why do you keep calling out Barres’ trans status?” And I did a sort of forehead slap and realized that I had totally neglected to include the Barres quotes that made pointing out his status relevant, so I looked like a doofus.
(It’s one thing to write, for instance, “Skeptics wondered whether the actor, who is Japanese, would be accepted in the role of Hamlet,” but it’s bizarre and offensive to write, “The actor, who is Japanese, got in a traffic scrape.” Also, brief tale: I was once extremely offended by a Daily Mail headline that said, “Black Cab Driver Found Guilty of Rape.” Then I clicked on the link and, actually, the culprit was a white man who drove a black cab. Hyphens: they exist for a reason!)