Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, Mass. sits about 10 miles away from Smith College, another women’s college in the state of Massachusetts. Both schools are single-sex institutions of higher learning, and both schools are also facing difficulties in accommodating transgender students.
Earlier this year, students at Smith protested their college’s refusal to accept transgender women after being promised changes would be made. In 2013 Calliope Wong, a transgender woman and high schooler at the time, was rejected from Smith because a federal student aid form identified her as male.
The college said they would alter their official admissions policy, but never did. Wong ended up matriculating at the University of Connecticut.
“Although there have not been any cases as public as Calliope Wong’s rejection from Smith College, we know that trans women have been similarly excluded from Mount Holyoke,” board members of Open Gates, a Mount Holyoke student organization, told BuzzFeed. “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.”
Open Gates is an organization dedicated to the full inclusion of trans women at Mount Holyoke College by aiming to change administrative policies as well as generating a culture that is welcoming of trans women on campus.
“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,” they continued to say. “We have hope for the future of MHC as a place where trans women can be members of the student body. The changes at Mills College show that it’s logistically possible and that we hope for continuing community growth and education to strive towards a campus environment where trans women are truly welcome.”
Open Gates went around on Pangy Day — a Mount Holyoke tradition and school-wide holiday that takes place every spring and includes a picnic, outdoor festivities, and celebration of “the total world of women” — and took pictures of students, alumni, and other community members on campus who think transgender women belong at Mount Holyoke.