Smith College, a private liberal arts college for women located in Northampton, Massachusetts, is a highly selective institution with a long history of supporting women’s education.
The college has rejected Calliope Wong, a male-to-female transgender applicant who is currently a student at Amity Regional Senior High School in Connecticut, because a government financial aid document registers her as male. Calliope wrote on her blog, “The research I’ve done on Smith’s trans-policies seems to strongly suggest that, regardless of a transwoman’s character and academic merit as a student, she will not be given the same consideration for her application. In fact, a transwoman will likely get NO consideration whatsoever for her application (it will almost certainly get thrown out immediately). This is because they only consider female applicants for undergraduate admission.”
On Smith’s website you can find the “Gender Identity and Expression” policies, which are disappointingly vague. The college states on their website, “Students at Smith, whatever their gender identity or gender expression are diverse, accomplished, and various in their views.” So how does Smith decide who is a woman? They go on to explain, “With regard to admission, Smith relies upon the information provided by each student applicant. In other contexts, different definitions and requirements may apply. For example, the definition of a woman for NCAA competition may differ from the definition of a woman for purposes of admission to Smith or other single-sex colleges.”
“I am not a rapist; I am not a criminal, and it is not fair to assume that I am such a person,” Wong wrote on her blog. “Thing is, I’m a girl who wants to just wants her fair shot at Smith.” Wong told the Huffington Post that while she does not plan to appeal Smith’s decision, she is in no way giving up on her cause. “I continue working so that others who care about equal rights have access to the truth. And, most importantly, I do this for the transfolk after me, so that they might inherit better policies and a more just system of education.”
In order to be accepted by Smith College, Wong would most likely have to undergo gender affirmation surgery before she can change her official gender identity in Connecticut. In her blog she points out why this presents a huge problem:
A Facebook group called Smith Q&A, as well as a tumblr, have started photo projects of women posing with signs supporting Wong.