News (USA)

More women’s colleges address transgender applicants

Pasquerella acknowledged the detractors, but she said current students have been overwhelmingly supportive.

Jennie Ochterski, a female senior and an organizer for Open Gates, a student group that had helped push for the admissions policy change, says she doesn’t believe excluding trans women from admission fits with Mount Holyoke’s mission.

Mills College, Oakland, Calf.
Mills College, Oakland, Calf.

Marilyn Hammond, president of the Women’s College Coalition, said she expects many of the 47 women’s colleges in the U.S. and Canada will eventually develop formal admission policies on transgender students.

She dismissed the notion that such policies dilute the mission of women’s colleges, many of which were founded at a time when higher learning institutions were largely closed to women.

“This is consistent with women’s colleges’ missions and historic willingness to address issues of diversity, inclusion and social justice,” Hammond said.

Transgender student activists are elated by the developments, which they say are long overdue. At the same time, they acknowledge there are bigger hurdles for their community overcome.

“We must be wary of policies being thought of as actual change,” says Eli Erlick, a transgender female at Pitzer College in Claremont, Calif., who says she might have considered applying to a women’s college had the admissions changes happened earlier. “No policy will change transphobic attitudes.”

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Calliope Wong, a transgender female who garnered national headlines last year when she disclosed that Smith College had refused to review her application, says the debate over women’s college admissions, if nothing else, can help highlight the myriad challenges transgender people face.

“Hopefully this leads to changes in attitudes in general,” said the University of Connecticut sophomore. “So that more people realize we do face employment discrimination and that we do have issues with legal representation and health care coverage.”

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