In a record-breaking victory for the American transgender community, Mills College, a small independent liberal arts college located in the San Francisco Bay area will, this fall, become the first women’s college in the United States to accept applications from any individual who self-identifies as a woman — including those who were not assigned female at birth.
The college will also accept applications from prospective students who identify as neither male nor female, and allow students who initially enrolled as female but transition to male to continue studying there.
Mills’ new policy is also the first of its kind — Mills is the first of the U.S.’s 119 single-gender colleges to create a policy that specifically acknowledges its transgender applicants and current students.
The acceptance of transgender students to single-gender institutions of higher education became a nationally recognized issue last spring when Smith College, a private women’s college in Northampton, Massachusetts, rejected student Calliope Wong on the grounds that her government financial documents identified her as male. “Smith is a women’s college, which means that undergraduate applicants must be female at the time of admission,” Wong’s letter stated. Wong posted a picture of her rejection letter on Tumblr last March, attracting massive attention to the issue. You go girl!
Smith continues to require that a student’s official application documents (including transcripts, letters of recommendation and standardized test scores) identify her as a woman in order for her to gain acceptance to the college. Lame.
Mills, however, acknowledges its transgender population, reporting that 3 to 5 students out of every 1,000 who enroll at the institution identify with a gender other than the gender they were assigned at birth. Its new policy will hopefully set a trend for other single-gender colleges to allow all its transgender and gender nonconforming students to have their heels and wear them too!