Starting in fall 2016, transgender women will be allowed to enroll at Barnard College, an all women's school that joins a handful of others embracing trans students within the last year.
A policy approved Wednesday by the board of trustees says that "in recognition of our changing world and evolving understanding of gender identity, Barnard will consider for admission those applicants who consistently live and identify as women, regardless of the gender assigned to them at birth."
The policy adds that students who transition to become men while enrolled will be allowed to stay at Barnard, a branch of Columbia University in New York City. The school of about 2,300 students, however, will not shed its identity as an all women's school. "We will also continue to use gendered language that reflects our identity as a women’s college."
Barnard's policy had been considered likely to pass, Metro reported. And like other schools that have passed similar rules for admissions, the change came after disagreements among students.
Student Ava Kingsley opposed a trans admissions policy at one of several town halls on the subject, the Columbia Spectator reported. “As soon as you open it up to, you know, males transitioning into women and vice versa, and women coming into an all women’s environment just to transition into male, I don’t think that this is the place to do that,” Kingsley reportedly said at the event of 300 attendees.
The Associated Press published a roster of women's schools that have recently adopted transgender inclusive admission policies. Bryn Mawr College, Mount Holyoke College, Smith College, Mills College, and Wellesley College all approved policies within the last year while Barnard considered its move.
“The vote on this policy is the culmination of a full year of conversations,” read a public letter announcing the policy Thursday by board chair Jolyne Caruso-FitzGerald and college president Debora L. Spar, during which time “a wide range of passionate and deeply held beliefs were discussed and debated.”
"But on two main points, the responses were compelling and clear. There was no question that Barnard must reaffirm its mission as a college for women. And there was little debate that trans women should be eligible for admission to Barnard."