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Because trans women are women.
Adding to the list of trans-inclusive women’s colleges, Spelman College, one of the most prominent historically Black colleges in the U.S., has decided to accept transgender students.
In a letter from Spelman College President Mary Schmidt Campbell, the HBCU announced that admissions will begin accepting transgender women for the fall 2018 semester.
“Spelman College, a Historically Black College whose mission is to serve high-achieving Black women, will consider for admission women students including students who consistently live and self-identify as women, regardless of their gender assignment at birth,” Campbell announced.
The official policy change comes after a task force of faculty, staff, students, alumnae, and trustees came together during the 2016–2017 year to look into admissions for trans women. That assembly ultimately made “a set of recommendations” to the president and the Board of Trustees, leading to the change.
Meanwhile, Spelman College has a policy for transgender men who are accepted to Spelman prior to their transition. While the college will not accept trans men who have transitioned, those who begin transitioning at the college will be allowed to continue studying.
“Spelman does not admit male students, including students who self-identify and live consistently as men, regardless of gender assignment at birth,” Campbell said. “If a woman is admitted and transitions to male while a student at Spelman, the College will permit that student to continue to matriculate at and graduate from Spelman.”
In an admissions FAQ posted on the Spelman College website, the college further explained the academic institution’s admissions’ policy, outlining what it means for a student to be a self-identifying man or woman. Students have the option to disclose their trans status on their application, and candidates who self-identify as women will have “supporting application materials” that verifies they live consistently as a woman and identify as one.
It remains unclear how Spelman College will handle transgender applicants who apply in the middle of their transitioning. However, students with gender “discrepancies” in their applications are allowed to speak to an admissions counselor or discuss concerns in their application’s personal statement or essay. Housing accommodations for students will be dealt with on a “case-by-case basis,” and a committee will continue creating an implementation plan for campus life for fall 2018.
Spelman College joins a growing list of women’s colleges that accept transgender women. Campus Pride reports that trans-inclusive campuses include Mills College, Wellesley College, Mount Holyoke College, and Barnard College, among others. The site particularly praises Mount Holyoke, as the college accepts “all trans-identified individuals” and simply refuses cisgender men.
Ana Valens is a reporter specializing in online queer communities, marginalized identities, and adult content creation. She is Daily Dot's Trans/Sex columnist. Her work has appeared at Waypoint, Truthout, Bitch Media, Kill Screen, Rolling Stone's Glixel, and the Toast. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.