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Barnard is the latest all-women’s college to accept transgender women

By Sonali Kohli

Barnard College, an all-women school that is part of Columbia University, will be the latest US college to accept transgender women, it announced today.

Starting in the fall of 2016, the college will accept transgender women applicants, which it defines as those who “consistently live and identify as women, regardless of the gender assigned to them at birth.” It allows students who transition to men while they are at the college to stay on, but does not accept transgender male applicants or those who identify as neither gender.

This decision comes weeks after Smith College, probably the most high-profile women’s college in the US, made the same decision, following the lead of other women’s colleges.

Barnard’s Board of Trustees has discussed changing the policy at every meeting this year, and finally took the vote yesterday (June 3), according to the statement.

The college told the New York Times (paywall) last year that it used to consider transgender students on a case-by-case basis.

Barnard English professor Jennifer Boylan, who is transgender, told the Associated Press that women’s colleges have a particular responsibility to welcome transgender students. She argues that the inclusion should extend to transgender male applicants and to applicants who don’t identify as either gender.

“You come to a place like this because gender is at the center of your life. Because the questions you need to answer to become yourself are questions that are best going to be answered at a college in which gender is at the center of the academic enterprise. The more you think about it, the more sense it makes.”