Following the lead of Oakland’s Mills College, Mount Holyoke College became the first Seven Sisters one to change their admissions policies to openly welcome transfeminine and gender variant applicants to their campus.
I had the pleasure of speaking on Bryn Mawr’s campus in 2009 and urged them at that time to start working toward coming up with trans inclusive policies.
If some Bryn Mawr students and alums get their wish, Bryn Mawr will be the next Seven Sisters college to include trans students on their campus. They have penned an open letter and started a Change.org petitionthat as of this writing has amassed 1275 signatures that they hope will expeditiously jump start the process.
From the open letter accompanying the petition:
Bryn Mawr’s current approach to handling trans student applicants is
ineffective and insufficient. As long as Bryn Mawr continues to exclude
trans and nonbinary students, it continues to neglect its essential
educational mission. Bryn Mawr has a long history as an institution that
offers educational opportunities to students who face discrimination
because of their gender. The time has come to expand Bryn Mawr’s safe,
supportive community to fully include trans students and other gender
minorities. This fall, Bryn Mawr faces a great choice: return to our
historical mission of helping students break through the gender-based
limits imposed on their education, or stand still and watch as others
The open letter also requested the following six things occur at Bryn Mawr:
1. Bryn Mawr to commit to adopting a trans-inclusive admissions
policy by October 15th, 2014–one month before the Early Decision I
application deadline for transfers and the class of 2019;
2. Gender inclusive restroom signage to be implemented no later than
January 20, 2015, which is the first day of second semester classes;
3. A revision to the College’s statement of nondiscrimination to
include gender, gender identity, and gender presentation as protected
4. Bryn Mawr to follow the students’ example and use gender-inclusive
language in all College documents and signage, including but not
limited to: the College website; marketing, recruitment, fundraising
materials, and Alumnae Association materials;
5. The development and implementation of accessible, simple, and
thorough procedures for students to change their preferred names and
pronouns on various platforms used by the College, including but not
limited to: Moodle, PeopleSoft, transcripts, diplomas, medical records,
and other university records and documents;
6. A demonstrated dedication to further providing and supporting
continuing education and training for the entire campus, focusing on the
involvement of faculty and staff, and ensuring that the voices of
current students and trans women are prioritized.
It will be interesting to watch and see if Bryn Mawr’s administration takes this seriously and it becomes the next Seven Sisters institution to welcome trans and gender variant students to its lovely suburban Philadelphia area campus, or another Seven Sisters campus beats it to that distinction.
In either case, the trans community and our allies will be watching and waiting along with the parents of trans feminine kids rapidly approaching college age.