“Mills College - a women’s college in California - has always had an unwritten admissions policy we’re very fond of: anyone who identifies as a woman is welcome, regardless of gender markers on admissions documents. But now they’ve officially clarified the policy: “Students who self-identify as female are eligible to apply for undergraduate admission. This includes students who were not assigned to the female sex at birth but live and identify as women at the time of application….Where there is a conflict between the student’s self-identified gender and the gender that appears on legal documentation such as an academic transcript or documents provided as part of the financial aid process, the student is strongly encouraged to contact the Office of Undergraduate Admissions for a discussion around their desire to attend a women’s college and how they self-identify in terms of gender. This self-identification shall be the driving force behind the College’s eligibility decision.” — Mills College Admissions Let’s push Smith to adopt the same discussion-based process!”
“If the purpose of a women’s college is to provide a place free of gender discrimination where women can flourish academically and socially, and to create lifelong networks that will help women overcome sexist roadblocks once they graduate, what argument can be made for excluding women in especially dire need of these advantages, on the basis of what makes them vulnerable in the first place?”
“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.”
Hi Sarah! Thanks so much for your question and your support!
It is correct that Mount Holyoke has no official policy regarding trans women. As listed on the website, “Mount Holyoke’s mission is…to continue building on the College’s historic legacy of leadership in the education of women”, but do the women listed here include trans women?
In a Daily Hampshire Gazette article from March 2013 (found in our informational links), President Pasquerella is quoted in saying “If someone is not legally female, we can’t admit them and keep our federal funding.”
This reveals two things:
- Trans women who have legally transitioned can be (and have been) considered for admission to Mount Holyoke.
- BUT as of right now, nearly all trans women who would be prospective students to Mount Holyoke cannot apply because they lack any combination of the finances/age/supports to legally transition or they simply don’t desire to legally transition.
However, scholarship suggests that trans women who are not legally female would be able to be admitted to Mount Holyoke without disrupting funding.
A paper by alum Katherine Kraschel (also in the links) explains that women’s colleges can exist because Title IX permits gender-based affirmative action in order to create space solely for people with marginalized genders. Traditionally, ‘marginalized genders’ has been interpreted as ‘female’, but being transgender falls under this category as well. Trans women are both women and trans, so Title IX does in fact support trans women’s rights to attend a women’s colleges.