Transgender rights took a step forward last week when all-female Mills College in Oakland, California made history by adopting a trans-inclusive admissions policy for transgender and gender non-conforming students. It is the first single-sex college in the country to adopt such a policy.
"The purpose of the policy is that we didn't want students to feel excluded in the application process," Brian O'Rourke, vice president of admissions at Mills told SF Gate. "Applicants questioning their gender identity already feel stressed, and reaching out to a stranger in an admissions office can exacerbate that stress." He continued "Having a written policy should make the application process easier"
According to O'Rourke, of Mills' roughly 1,000 undergraduates, three to five each year are transgender or identify as something other than the gender they were assigned at birth.
According to new policy, "Applicants 'who do not fit into the gender binary' -- being neither male nor female -- are eligible if they were 'assigned to the female sex at birth.'"
Students who enroll but later identify as a man and begin to transition may stay and graduate.
Mills' new policy isn't however without at catch, students 'assigned to the female sex at birth' who have legally become male prior to applying are not eligible unless they apply to the graduate program, which is coeducational.
Transgender inclusion has been a hot button issue among admission offices of America's 48 all-female colleges. The 2013 refusal by Smith College in Massachusetts to admit Calliope Wong, a trans woman sparked numerous campus protests. A year later, the prestigious women's college refuses to address the topic of transgender students.
According to the school's website, Founded in 1852 as the Young Ladies' Seminary in Benicia, California, Mills College boasts a rich history as a leader in women's education. Mills was founded two years after California was admitted to statehood and the same year the city of Oakland was established. The University of California and Stanford had yet to exist, and miners, farmers, and merchants wanted to educate their daughters without sending them on the perilous journey to East Coast schools.
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