Single-Sex College Admits Transgendered Students

Friday, 29 Aug 2014 03:28 PM

By John Blosser

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Mills College, a small women's college in the San Francisco area, has become the first out of 119 single-sex colleges in America to officially allow the admission of self-identified male-to-female transgendered students.

USA Today reports that Mills, after receiving recommendations from the college's Gender Identity and Expression Committee, has decided to allow transgendered students to enroll beginning with the fall semester in September. 

Brian O'Rourke, vice president of enrollment and admissions at the college, told KQED, "This is really just a codification of our practice for several years. We have accepted students in the past who are transgender or gender-questioning. We've been doing that for years, but we think now is the time to go out there publicly.

"We want to be more inclusive in the application process and try not to have students jump through a particular hoop based on how they identify." 

The college, founded in 1852 and boasting a student body of 1,608, long has been considered gay-friendly, with the college website stating, "Mills College is committed to creating a safe, equitable environment, where all members of the community-lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer, genderqueer, two-spirit, transgender, cisgendered and straight, are openly included and affirmed. Mills provides a unique environment for LGBTQ students and their allies. Many of our faculty and students come to Mills because of a commitment to developing feminist-based critical, scientific and creative practices that are aware of and resistant to gender-based oppression.

"In 2012, 34.7% of seniors self-identified as lesbian, bisexual, queer or transgender/genderqueer," school records reveal. 

However, according to USA Today, the college will not admit female-to-male students if they have legally changed gender before enrollment, but will allow such students to remain if they switch to male after enrollment.

"In more recent years, Mills added a queer studies minor and increased programming for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer student. The current official admissions policy at Mills is that all students who claim female identity when they apply are considered for admission," the study which preceded the admissions policy change states. 

Last year, Smith College in Massachusetts rejected the application of Calliope Wong, a male-to-female transgender would-be student, because a government form indicated that she was male, and the college wrote on her rejection form, "Smith is a women's college, which means that undergraduate applicants to Smith must be female at the time of admission," USA Today reports.
 
Brad Dacus, president of the Pacific Justice Institute, commented to KQED, "If you have someone who's transgender, perhaps they haven't had the surgery. They're still biologically, physically male," he said. "Then the school needs to be very sensitive to the privacy interests of females, for instance, who may not feel comfortable changing in the same locker room or showering."

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