Who Are Women's Colleges For?

2014 has seen a lot of discussion about the inclusion of trans women at women's colleges.

In May of 2014 the New York Times published an article by Kiera Feldman on the topic.

Link: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/25/opinion/sunday/who-are-womens-colleges-for.html?_r=3


Women’s colleges, Feldman explains, are “struggling to reconcile their mission with a growing societal shift on how gender itself is defined”.

Feldman discusses the issues surrounding Title IX that women's college administrations have been grappling with. On April 29th, 2014, the US Dept. of Education said that trans students are protected under Title IX.

Schools are worried that accepting students who aren’t “legally female” will make them lose Title IX funding, but they end up arguing that biology is destiny. Feldman argues this is a losing battle.

Trans men create a tricky situation: students who matriculate as women and then transition ask for accommodations, but giving them to trans men and not admitting trans women means that women’s colleges are benefiting men and discriminating against women. This is a confusing situation for a lot of people.

The policies of Smith, Mt. Holyoke, Mills and Barnard are discussed in the article. Smith administrators say they don’t define what a woman is- they leave that to other “entities or agencies to affirm”, but it does have to be affirmed at the time of admission. Students argue that this process is unreasonably difficult.

Dean Spade, who graduated from Barnard, calls for full inclusion of trans women at women’s colleges.

The point of the article, in the end, is that Feldman believes it would be illogical for women's colleges to deny trans women a place in their communities: "In 1960, there were more than 200 women’s colleges; today there are 46, and enrollment is dropping. It seems worse than shortsighted to deny admission to any women who want to attend. Founded in the spirit of advancing the rights of women, these schools should lead the way for society, and accept transgender women."