On Tuesday, Sept. 2, a new class of students at Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, Massachusetts, were welcomed on campus at the college’s annual convocation. In addition to welcoming students to the women’s college, this year’s convocation is also when President Lynn Pasquerella decided to address major changes made to the school’s admissions policy for transgender students.
“Mount Holyoke and our Board of Trustees took the important step of establishing a policy on transgender students,” Pasquerella said, according to an article released on the school’s website. “While we have welcomed trans students in the past and for several years have been in conversation with campus constituencies about how best to foster a respectful environment for all students — we needed a formal policy: one that would articulate our commitment to core values of individual freedom, social justice, and diversity and inclusion.”
The new and improved admissions policy — which was published in its entirety online — says the school “welcomes applications for our undergraduate program from any qualified student who is female or identifies as a woman.” It’s also specifically outlined that any student who identifies as a woman, regardless of being biologically born male, female, or intersex, are invited to apply.
Mount Holyoke’s announcement comes at a time when women’s colleges are being pressured by students, alums, and other members of the community to have more inclusionary policies toward transgender students and applicants.
Last Friday, board members of Open Gates, a Mount Holyoke student organization dedicated to the full inclusion of trans women, spoke to BuzzFeed about their desire for a more inclusive admissions policy for transgender students at their school.
“It’s significant that so many women are flat out excluded from ever attending Mount Holyoke College, and this past semester, students became more aware of this fact,” the board members said.
“Now that Mills College has set a precedent with their newly clarified policy, there’s a real possibility out there, a true example of how changes can be made to include trans women, at least by law, at women’s colleges.”
Now this possibility has become a reality.