“Like same-sex colleges all over the country, Spelman is taking into account evolving definitions of gender identity in a changing world and taking steps to ensure that our policies and plans reflect those changes in a manner that is consistent with our mission and the law,” the letter reads. “Spelman College … will consider for admission women students including students who consistently live and self-identify as women, regardless of their gender assignment at birth.”
Schmidt Campbell said the college will not admit male students, even those who were assigned female at birth. However, the new admissions policy does extend to some transgender male students.
“If a woman is admitted and transitions to male while a student at Spelman, the College will permit that student to continue to matriculate at and graduate from Spelman,” the policy states. Potential students will have the option to self-disclose their gender identity.
The new admissions policy is the result of a year of research by the Transgender Policy Task Force, which Schmidt Campbell put together last fall as part of her commitment to expanding the college’s Title IX policies and practices. The task force presented its findings to the college’s Board of Trustees in late April.
Spelman College, a historically black women’s college, is the latest all-girls schools to announce that transgender female students will be considered for admission. In 2014, Mills College in Oakland, California, was the first to publicize the decision, followed in 2015 by Wellesley College, Smith, Bryn Mawr and Barnard, according to the Associated Press. Other schools likely do so as well, but didn’t announce their decisions. And some schools, like Mount Holyoke, don’t track the gender identities of their students.
As part of the expanded admissions policy, Spelman added new inquiries to its frequently asked questions webpage to address concerns from students and parents, and dispel misconceptions about students who may be transgender. Transgender applicants won’t be reviewed any differently, according to the policy — they will be reviewed based on their academic profiles, essays, recommendation letters, leadership experiences and activities outside the classroom.
According to the college’s website, housing accommodations will be handled on a case-by-case basis, with safety and comfort provided to each student.
“In adopting this admissions policy, Spelman continues its fervent belief in the power of the Spelman Sisterhood,” Schmidt Campbell says in her letter. “Students who choose Spelman come to our campus prepared to participate in a women’s college that is academically and intellectually rigorous, and affirms its core mission as the education and development of high-achieving Black women.”