Friday, March 23, 2018
Back in the late 1800s, when "brain fever" was used as an argument for why women shouldn’t receive a formal education, Mount Holyoke College was among the first to offer an all-female undergraduate program.
But a lot has changed since the first women’s colleges were founded — today there are nearly 40 — and many of them have been grappling with one specific aspect of that identity in recent years: How should transgender applicants be considered?
Propelled by increasing social pressures and Title IX guidelines issued during the Obama administration, many of these institutions have rewritten their admissions policies to change and clarify who will be counted.
Mount Holyoke, for example, now says students who self-identify as women can be considered for admission, according to a policy statement: "We recognize that what it means to be a woman is not static. Traditional binaries around who counts as a man or woman are being challenged by those whose gender identity does not conform to their biology."
The college further emphasizes its commitment as a historic place for women, partly founded on the motto "Go where no one else will go, do what no one else will do."