Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Mount Holyoke College Clarifies Admissions Policy in the Most Trans-Inclusive Way Possible

As of today, Mount Holyoke College, a women's college in Massachusetts, now clarifies on its website that it will consider applications for admission from transgender students.  Specifically, the website reports that the following students may apply:
  • Biologically born female; identifies as a woman
  • Biologically born female; identifies as a man
  • Biologically born female; identifies as other/they/ze
  • Biologically born female; does not identify as either woman or man
  • Biologically born male; identifies as woman
  • Biologically born male; identifies as other/they/ze and when “other/they” identity includes woman
  • Biologically born with both male and female anatomy (Intersex); identifies as a woman
By including those who are "biologically born female" who identify as male, Mount Holyoke's admissions policy is even more inclusive than that of Mills College, a women's college in California that earlier this month welcomed applications from transgender women, but not those "female-born students, who have undergone a legal change of gender to male prior to the point of application."  In my view, Mount Holyoke's broad view of those eligible for admission recognizes that both biological sex and gender identity are relevant for defining a community whose ostensible purpose is an antidote to male privilege. Transitioning to male does not erase the privilege deficit that may have accumulated for a student during the time she was legally female.  (I've blogged about this before.)

The other thing that makes me happy about Mount Holyoke's public endorsement of trans inclusion is that it suggests the college has finally dropped its mistaken belief that admitting transgender women would somehow cause the college to lose their federal funding under Title IX (an argument that is belied by the fact that Title IX does not even apply to the the admissions practices of private undergraduate institutions).  It seemed to me that Mount Holyoke was the public voice of this argument and that it was impervious to attempts at correction.  So I'm not only glad to see Mount Holyoke adopt an inclusive admissions policy, I'm also happy to see an end to its misplaced blame on Title IX.