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North Carolina

Student asks to remain at all-female college after transitioning to male

Saturday, January 12, 2013

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — An undergraduate student at Salem College, who is transitioning from a woman to a man, is asking to stay on the campus of the all-female school, a college alumnae says.

Annie Webb, a 2005 Salem graduate, said in an email to fellow alumnae on Jan. 5 that a traditional student will be undergoing gender reassignment surgery in February — going from female to male — and plans to continue his education as a student living on campus, reported the Winston-Salem Journal.

Michelle Melton, a college spokeswoman, declined to identify the student, but acknowledged that college officials are looking at whether to create a policy for transgender students.

Salem College is a four-year liberal-arts school for women. It has enrollment of 1,100 students, including men who are 23 and older who take undergraduate courses at the Fleer Center for Adult Education. However, only female students are allowed to live on campus, according to the school’s website.

President Susan Pauly acknowledged in a recent email to alumnae that the college’s faculty, staff and residential students were sent a questionnaire asking them in part, “In light of our mission to educate women, how do you view the issue of transgender students in the traditional college program at Salem?”

Charles Blixt, chairman of the college’s board of trustees, declined to discuss any specific policy the trustees might be considering and said they have no timetable for a decision on the student’s request.

But he did tell the Journal on Friday, “The board will not consider becoming a coed institution. This is the oldest women’s college in the country, and we intend to remain so.”

Update: Since this story appeared, several Salem students contacted the Journal to say that the facts about the student they believe is the subject of Webb’s email were incorrect.

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26 more reader comments:

  1. I strongly believe in the importance of all women schools, so, while I believe that we have to accept everyone for what they bring to the table, I would want to make sure that young women at that school are in agreement to keep that student. It never hurts to have that sort of discussion.

    Posted on Saturday, January 12, 2013 at 6:09pm
  2. I don’t know about this one — I loved that Miss California contestant can be transgender as a female — but this guy knew it was all woman college when he went in, and expects to be treated as a guy legally – in marriage, etc…so I don’t think it’d be right for him to remain in a all woman college.

    Posted on Saturday, January 12, 2013 at 6:10pm
  3. no!!

    Posted on Saturday, January 12, 2013 at 6:12pm
  4. Sorry, dude. If you depend on the scholarships, then maybe a little delay would have been in order? But now that you’ve made the switch, you’re a dude and you need to leave the school. This should have been in your plan the entire time. At the very least, you should have discussed this situation with the administrators before making the change. Then you would have known how to plan. But you are now a dude. Move on to either a coed or all male college.

    Posted on Saturday, January 12, 2013 at 6:24pm
  5. I really don’t think any institution should be all female or all male, but she knew their policy. And now that she is a he, he should respect that. I hope I worded that correctly.

    Posted on Saturday, January 12, 2013 at 6:27pm
  6. Transgender people everywhere are fighting to be recognized as the gender they transition to, identify with and present themselves to be…..the fact is that he is transitioning to male and wants to be legally recognized as a male means he no longer has the right to attend a women’s only institution…..this makes absolutely no sense….you can’t have it all….why transition if you still want to be considered female??? And why would they let any male attend a women only school??? In my opinion it goes against everything transgender individuals are fighting and struggling for.

    Posted on Saturday, January 12, 2013 at 6:32pm
  7. I think respect goes both ways. We respect and support you for becoming the man you always felt you were. Just as you must respect and support a century old tradition of this school to be all female.
    Please do the right thing, without a scene. Withdraw as a student and attend a more appropriate institution.

    Posted on Saturday, January 12, 2013 at 6:38pm
  8. I look at it differently. In my experience, many transmen still frequented online lesbian space, it was welcoming of transmen and transwomen. In these cases, it depends on the individual, since some transmen would want nothing to do with such space. Some do. Let them decide.

    Posted on Saturday, January 12, 2013 at 6:50pm
  9. @ Nelle…the point you seem to be missing is that he attends an institution that is for WOMEN only…something he is obviously fully aware of…he is transitioning to male….what he does online or anywhere else is of course his own concern…but men cannot attend women only colleges…it’s as simple as that.

    Posted on Saturday, January 12, 2013 at 6:59pm
  10. when inmates transition in jail they are transferred to an institution that reflects their gender identity….

    Posted on Saturday, January 12, 2013 at 7:00pm
  11. I’m a transwoman and in the lesbian community. I’m forever indebted to my sisters for welcoming and helping me along the way, and I admire their ability and inclination to welcome transfolk.

    I’d suggest we need to take care with heteronormative, patriarchal constructs. We gain from varied experiences, and I like to think we can be an example going forward. I’d also guess the majority of students there would welcome them.

    Posted on Saturday, January 12, 2013 at 7:05pm
  12. i say let them stay

    Posted on Saturday, January 12, 2013 at 7:06pm
  13. what part of “women only” college escapes you…it’s not up for opinion…unless they change the school to co-ed…it has nothing to do with acceptance….

    Posted on Saturday, January 12, 2013 at 7:08pm
  14. vive le mariage gay! NO PROBLEMO

    Posted on Saturday, January 12, 2013 at 7:15pm
  15. now if they were trying to stop a transwoman from enrolling that would be an issue…..fact is he is a man now….and is enrolled in an institution that is for women only…again unless they decide to scrap their century old tradition and become co-ed….no man can enroll there…has nothing to do with the fact that he is trans…it is simply the fact that he is legally now a man….

    Posted on Saturday, January 12, 2013 at 7:16pm
  16. While I’m an old hat, mundane transwoman, there is incredible diversity out there, expanding the gender spectrum far beyond what we once assumed as binary.

    Posted on Saturday, January 12, 2013 at 7:17pm
  17. The students all chose to attend a female-only college. Even if this transman feels safer in the community he transitioned in, he is taking away the choices of literally every other student in the school. I’m from W-S, and the city is liberal enough to have had a Pride parade. There are half a dozen other colleges in the city and more within a 30-minute drive, so it’s not like there aren’t options for this guy.

    Posted on Saturday, January 12, 2013 at 7:21pm
  18. Tough stuff

    Posted on Saturday, January 12, 2013 at 7:29pm
  19. This is Smith’s policy…

    Posted on Saturday, January 12, 2013 at 7:32pm
  20. Not to be cold but you can’t have ur cake an eat it to

    Posted on Saturday, January 12, 2013 at 8:29pm
  21. That’s a tough one. If you want to take on a male persona, I guess you have to go to a co-ed institution.

    Posted on Saturday, January 12, 2013 at 8:31pm
  22. He can ask but rules are rules. It was his choice and he has to deal with the consequences. I wish him the best but that’s just the way it is!

    Posted on Saturday, January 12, 2013 at 8:39pm
  23. ok having read more of the story…it seems male students do indeed already attend salem college…just not in the undergraduate program and of course do not stay in residence….simple solution…knowing that it is not really a “women only” college he should be able to continue there!!! I was under the impression that NO men were allowed to attend this school at all…..simple…live off campus and let him complete the undergrad program he started there!

    Posted on Saturday, January 12, 2013 at 11:18pm
  24. Sad day in France today.. Manifestation AGAINST gay rights.. We need you to pass another day, egality now !

    Posted on Sunday, January 13, 2013 at 7:24am
  25. I don’t understand why you would have an all female or all male school. Seriously, I forsee now benefits of such a program. Maybe less distraction from the lack of there being boys? But then there are still lesbian women… and with technology these days, they can still talk to boyfriends/girlfriends through text…

    Posted on Sunday, January 13, 2013 at 10:00am
  26. Anthony, you should check if you want to learn more. I attend a women’s college and it’s been a pretty incredible experience. It’s not about segregating women from sexual activity, haha.

    That being said, I’m surprised this is an issue. There are several trans* students on my campus.

    Posted on Sunday, January 13, 2013 at 1:44pm