Barnard College announced it will begin accepting applications from those who “consistently live and identify as women, regardless of the gender assigned to them at birth.” The new policy mirrors those at a number of other women’s colleges that have begun admitting transgender women.
“When I first started hearing from trans students, I think as a human being, I couldn’t help but sympathize,” Barnard president Debora Spar told the New York Times following the announcement. “I think once you understand the human dimension of this, you want to do the right thing. The harder question then is, what is the right thing?”
A number of other women’s colleges have begun enacting specific policies regarding who is eligible for admission. At one end of the spectrum is Hollins University, which only allows transgender women who have undergone sex-reassignment surgery and have legally transitioned from male to female. Students who transition to male while at Hollins will be ineligible to earn a degree at the university.
Mount Holyoke College, however, is much more inclusive; the school accepts transgender women and men, as well as biological females who do not identify as either gender. The rationale behind this policy, Mount Holyoke president Lynn Pasquerella told the New York Times, is that anyone who has the female experience should be eligible to attend a women’s college.
Barnard’s new policy will allow current students who transition to male to receive a degree from the college. Prior to the announcement, the school did not have a formal policy regarding the admittance of transgender women.