Smith College changes admission policy to allow transgender applicants

Smith College, the largest of the Seven Sisters schools, voted to change its admission policy Saturday to allow transgender students at the all-female institution.

The policy change, which goes into effect in the upcoming fall semester, was the result of a year of “formal study,” college President Kathleen McCartney and board Chairwoman Elizabeth Mugar Eveillard said in an announcement on the Northampton, Massachusetts school’s website.

“In the years since Smith’s founding, concepts of female identity have evolved,” the school’s announcement read. GLAAD said in a statement Saturday that it worked with Smith since 2013 “to urge the college to open its doors to all women.”

In a separate FAQ online, the school clarified its policy change, adding that “those assigned female at birth, but who now identify as male are not eligible for admission.” Nor would the school accept applicants who identify as “genderqueer,” or those who identify beyond the gender binary roles of male or female.

Smith’s new policy follows similar recent changes to admission practices at Mount Holyoke and Wellesley and other women’s colleges.

The past year, students held rallies to protest the school’s refusal to admit transgender women. More specifically, a transgender woman, Justin Kilian, was barred from attending the October 2014 meeting with the school’s Board of Trustees, Buzzfeed reported.

In 2013, Smith College told a transgender high school student, Calliope Wong, that she didn’t qualify for attendance because her home state of Connecticut didn’t legally recognize her as a female.

In a Tumblr blog post, Wong said she would have to undergo sex reassignment surgery so that she can legally change her gender identity in Connecticut.

“From what I understand, Smith College will only evaluate me as a ‘real’ girl if I get the [surgery],” she said in the post. “Thing is, I’m a girl who just wants her fair shot at Smith.”