Wellesley College: Women’s college students vote to admit trans men and non-binary people

Hilary Clinton gives a speech at Wellesley College

Students at an all-girls college in the US have voted to allow transgender and non-binary applicants during the next academic year.

Wellesley College in Massachusetts held a vote on Tuesday (14 March) to allow trans men and non-binary people who were assigned male at birth to attend the school.

It says its goals are to challenge power structures that leave women, and other marginalised groups behind.

The college already allows trans women and non-binary people who were assigned female at birth to attend, but controversy arose following college officials’ decision not to change its policy.

In a statement, a college spokesperson wrote that it had “no plan to revisit” its admissions policy, but that it would “continue to engage all students in the important work of building an inclusive academic community.”

Trans women became eligible to apply in 2015 following an update to its admission policy that considered “any applicant who lives as a woman and consistently identifies as a woman.”

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Despite the denial that the policy would be changed, there have been efforts to improve the use of inclusive language across the college’s communications.

“Wellesley was founded on the then-radical idea that educating women of all socioeconomic backgrounds leads to progress for everyone,” College president Paula Johnson said in a post.

“We continue to challenge the norms and power structures that too often leave women, and others of marginalised identities, behind.

“Some transgender male and nonbinary students whose identities have evolved during their time here say they feel excluded by the College’s use of the words ‘women’ and ‘alumnae.’

“I think we can do better at finding that balance.”

‘Trans students have always belonged at Wellesley’

She continued that the college would commit to “finding opportunities to publicly acknowledge the diversity of our community,” while also “doing more to acknowledge and respect individual identities.”

In response, a student newspaper editorial board wrote that “transgender and nonbinary students have always belonged and will continue to belong at Wellesley, a historically women’s college.”

“As journalists, we understand the power of rhetoric to do good or harm,” the statement read.

“We would like to emphasize that President Johnson’s response is part of a broader trend of Wellesley’s administration and the Board of Trustees intervening in student discourse, which sets a problematic precedent.”

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