The Smith College board of trustees has voted to accept that transgender women are women.
The shift to a self-identification admissions policy at the women’s college in Northampton goes into effect for students submitting applications this fall. The decision was revealed Saturday afternoon in a message to students, faculty, staff, parents, and alumnae.
Under the new admissions policy, applicants who were born male but identify as women are eligible for admission. Applicants must select “female” on the Common Application to be considered.
From the civil rights perspective, we’re saying trans women are women. What we’re doing here is really affirming that we’re a women’s college and we have an unwavering mission and identity as a women’s college.
--Smith College President Kathleen McCartney
The move follows the leads of Mills College in California, and Wellesley, Mount Holyoke and Simmons Colleges in Massachusetts and Bryn Mawr in Pennsylvania.
Our clarified admission policy reflects a women's college that is steadfast in its founding mission yet evolving to reflect a changing world.
The Smith trustees studied the issue for a year before acting.
The Board of Trustees last year decided to study this because conceptions of gender are evolving. We worked to develop a comprehensive approach . . . I feel really, really good about the process and I think our community will as well.
The new policy states that Smith does not accept undergraduate applications from men, including those who were born female but now identify as male.
Smith Q & A
The policy does not extend to students who begin to identify as men while they are enrolled. “Once admitted, every student has the full support of the college and this includes trans men,” according to the frequently-asked-questions section on the school’s website.
, a student group which pushed for the policy change, says they are pleased with the change but "there is still work to be done."
Admission to Smith College does not necessarily mean trans women will be admitted to a healthy, supportive environment where they can thrive. Cultural attitudes about trans women will have to be challenged and changed.
--Smith Q & A statement
Smith came under fire after it got national attention in 2013 for denying the application of transgender student Calliope Wong in 2013 because she was not at the time recognized as female in her home state, Connecticut, which at the time required her to have surgery before acknowledging change of gender. The Board began to rethink its policy after a change.org petition gained 4000 signatures in support of Wong and students began protesting.