Women's Colleges Accept Trans Applicants. What About Men's Colleges?

While it has become common for women’s institutions to admit those who identify as women but may not have been born women, the same attitude doesn’t prevail at most men’s colleges.

September 11, 2017
 

Spelman College, a historically black women's college, announced last week that it had adopted a new admissions policy under which it would admit not only women but "students who consistently live and self-identify as women, regardless of their gender assignment at birth."

The announcement was the latest win for transgender students who identify as women and want the option to apply to women's colleges. Mills College led the way and was followed by many of the most elite women's colleges, including Mount Holyoke, Barnard and Wellesley Colleges.

On those and other campuses, students rallied for the changes in admissions policies -- and the decisions attracted considerable public attention.

But what about colleges that admit only men? With the decision of Deep Springs College to go coeducational, there are four all-male colleges (excluding seminaries): Hampden-Sydney, Morehouse and Wabash Colleges and Saint John's University in Minnesota. It turns out that only one of those institutions -- Saint John's -- will admit transgender students.

At Morehouse, adjacent to Spelman, the college released this statement that suggests that the topic is under discussion but that no policy has been adopted: "We applaud our sisters at Spelman College for their efforts to address the challenging and sensitive matter of gender identification. Morehouse supports every individual’s right to self-identification. As an all-men’s college whose mission is to develop men with disciplined minds who will lead lives of leadership and service, we recognize the importance of this discussion and its complexities. We will work closely with our faculty, students, staff, alumni and Board of Trustees to create a policy that is in line with the mission of our college."

At Wabash, a spokesman said via email that "the college’s admissions policy is to evaluate candidates based on our singular and historic mission to be a liberal arts college for men chartered in the state of Indiana. All of our programs and policies are designed to support our mission." Asked if this meant that the college would admit only those classified by the government as male, he said, "legally male as defined by the state in which we are chartered."

At Hampden-Sydney, a spokesman said the policy was that "we do not admit men who were not born as male."

The only men's college that has a policy to accept transgender applicants is Saint John's. The college in November announced the change on its website.

The Saint John's policy states, "In furtherance of our mission, tradition and values as an undergraduate college for men, and in recognition of our changing world and evolving understanding of gender identity, Saint John's University will consider for undergraduate admission those applicants who consistently live and identify as men, regardless of the gender assigned to them at birth. Saint John's University will continue to use gendered language that reflects its mission as an undergraduate college for men."

The college works closely with the nearby College of Saint Benedict, a women's college that has a similar policy.

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