Smith College, a private liberal arts women's college in Northampton, Massachusetts, has changed its policy that students must be "legally recognized as female at the time of admission," announcing on Saturday that it is strengthening its trans-friendly policy by admitting self-identified transgender women, reports the Associated Press.
"In the years since Smith’s founding, concepts of female identity have evolved," said Smith President Kathleen McCartney and board Chair Elizabeth Mugar Eveillard in a joint statement.
In 2013, Smith was criticized for rejecting the application of Calliope Wong, then a high school senior who identified as a transgender woman. Wong applied and was denied admission to Smith because the state where she was from, Connecticut, didn't recognize her as female, according to Advocate.com. Smith's dean of admission, Debra Shaver, wrote in a letter to Wong that "Smith is a women's college, which means that undergraduate applicants to Smith must be female at the time of admission."
Since Wong's case, LGBT advocates GLAAD (formerly Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) worked with Smith alumnae to change the policy, which affects fall applicants. Smith joins all-women's colleges including Mount Holyoke and Mills College in admitting self-identified trans women. Smith won't admit transgender men but will accept transgender men if they entered Smith as women and transitioned after becoming students. Approximately 2,500 undergraduates reside in Northampton, with around 150 students studying elsewhere, according the Smith College website.
GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis said, "No person should be denied an education simply because of who they are. By opening its doors to transgender women, Smith College has joined a growing number of educational institutions that respect and afford equal opportunity to all women."