"The school goes on to point out that it’s not just religious schools struggling with the question of how to deal with trans students, citing all-women’s school Smith College’s ongoing, controversial policy prohibiting transgender women."
George Fox University is citing Smith College in their justification for discriminating against trans students.
It’s like a “You know you’re acting discriminatorily towards trans students when…” cliche. I don’t even know. I have this feeling in my stomach, and I can’t tell if it’s just disgust and fury at this, or a vague excitement because this is such terrible PR that it could put further pressure on Smith to change their policies.
trans women are women, and they belong at women’s colleges. the ‘seven sisters’ legacy is meaningless if we only support our cis-ters and not our sisters.
I wish you all the best of luck! I remember when I was applying to colleges how upsetting not being able to apply to Smith was. Hopefully the policy will change because of your actions.
The issue of documentation can be a lifelong struggle for transgender women. According to transgender advocate and writer Katherine Cross, “in most parts of the United States, ensuring that all of your documents ‘consistently identify’ you as female requires a surgery that costs at least $18,000.” She notes that some states bar changing the gender on a birth certificate even post-surgery. Although Smith doesn’t require legal documents like driver’s licenses or birth certificates, its policy still has what Cross calls a “disproportionate impact” on transgender women who apply: The current process requires that each transgender woman applicant have adequate family support, school support, resources and time to get her transcript, all three recommendations and her standardized-test results to “consistently” identify her as a woman. It also necessarily excludes transgender women whose schools, teachers or guidance counselors refuse to change their documents or use their preferred pronouns. This is why Smith’s student activists want to change the policy so that an applicant’s gender can be confirmed merely by including a supplemental letter from a trusted adult—a social worker, counselor, employer or teacher—verifying that the applicant in question identifies and lives as a woman…
It’s this idea of Smith as a feminist space excluding trans women that ties the debate into one of the ugliest chapters in feminist history. In the 1970s and 1980s, so-called radical feminists were enthusiastic about the idea of a “women’s culture,” a set of female-only and protected spaces where women could find some breathing room from the patriarchy. But their take on “women’s culture” was often profoundly essentialist: To participate in this glorious and welcoming all-girls sisterhood, you needed a vagina. And transgender women were cast as “imposters,” invaders and ominous spies sent from the patriarchy to dismantle the movement (because clearly, if the patriarchy wanted to do anything, it was listen to a bunch of folk music at the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival—which excludes transgender women to this day).
The rules that govern changing gender markers on identity documents in the U.S. are inconsistent and arbitrary, and there is no such thing as a “legal gender.” Every ID-issuing agency has its own rules regarding whether and how people can change their gender marker. Some require a letter from a doctor or therapist, others require medical treatment, and others require specific medical interventions, including surgery. While some agencies are updating their policies by removing surgical requirements for gender ID change, such as the State Department’s passport policy, some are likely decades away from eliminating outdated standards. As a result, whether transgender people can change some of their documents depends on where they’re from. Women’s colleges should not be basing their admissions policies on an arbitrary, inconsistent and harmful system.
Additionally, the process of obtaining gender ID change is particularly difficult for young and low-income people. Most applicants to college are barely 18 years old. Many ID-issuing agencies require medical treatment and/or letters from medical providers. Most young people, especially those without supportive parents, cannot access such care. Furthermore, many states’ Medicaid systems and some private health insurance companies have bans on covering this care. Tying admissions policies to gender on identification documents disproportionately excludes people who have the hardest time accessing health care and the legal and administrative processes required by these policies: young people, poor people, people with disabilities and people of color.
- take a picture of yourself with a sign stating that you support the inclusion of trans women at Smith AND/OR write a few lines about your support. if you have a connection to Smith or another womens’ college, feel free to include it (prospective student, current Smithie, alum, etc)
- if you need a refresher on the issue, check out this handy flyer
- submit it!
- read about more ways to help out here
it’s important that we as a community show our support to keep the momentum building through the summer! here’s a photo to inspire you:
(Callum Angus, transgender Mount Holyoke alum, Trans Youth Equality Foundation Intern)
Smith Students Keep Protesting Smith Admissions' Policies for Transgender Women - The Rainbow Times
NORTHAMPTON, Mass.—Smith College students recently held a protest on campus in response to admissions policies they say are exclusionary towards transgender women, and many local activists agree.
"Genny Beemyn, director of the Stonewall Center at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, shared their take on the situation as it stands now.
“Smith officials are not doing enough to enable trans female students to be able to attend the college,” Beemyn said. “There is no reason that all of a student’s documents have to indicate that they are female. I have spoken to leaders in the Department of Education about this, and it is not an issue for them if MTF [male to female] students attend a women’s college. Smith could enable a MTF student to include a statement with their application confirming their female gender identity. This would not be too onerous on their Admissions people, but be a tremendous benefit to trans women.”