Smith College, the largest of the Seven Sisters group of women’s colleges, has changed its policy to accept transgender women. The new policy will be in effect for those applying for admission this upcoming fall.
Previously, Smith has only admitted women who have identified as female since birth. Smith’s president Kathleen McCartney and board chair Elizabeth Mugar Eveillard said in an online statement:
“The policy decision is the culmination of a year of formal study, during which the board and an appointed Admission Policy Study Group reviewed Smith’s admission policy in light of society’s evolving understanding of gender. The study group listened carefully to the voices of the campus community, Smith alumnae, and parents; consulted outside experts, including legal experts; and conducted its own research. The recommendations of the study group, as well as an advisory vote of the faculty, informed the board’s decision…
In keeping with our tradition and identity as a college of and for women, Smith will continue to use gendered language, including female pronouns, in institutional communications. The mission of Smith College is to educate women of promise for lives of distinction. In the years since Smith’s founding, concepts of female identity have evolved.”
Despite its new transgender policy, Smith claims it will not admit transgender males (those who are born as female but identify as male). CNN reports the new policy changes comes two years after Smith denied an application from Calliope Wong, a trans student who at the time was not legally recognized as a female in her home state Connecticut. When she was rejected, Wong petitioned Smith’s decision by garnering 4,000 signatures in support of her college application. Although Wong was never admitted entrance to Smith, she was a key person who helped the school implement its new policy. The advocacy group GLAAD and Smith alumnae also helped push for the change for Smith to become an inclusive environment for women; Wong is now a student at the University of Connecticut.
Smith’s President McCartney noted the school is currently working on helping current students and trans students transition effortlessly but creating inclusive rooming and social activities for all. Other women’s college like Mount Holyoke and Wellesley have also followed suit to admit transgender women.