Smith College is a women’s-only school and up until this weekend had only considered women who have identified as female since birth for admission.
But in the announcement over the weekend, school officials say they have changed their position and that “concepts of female identity have evolved.”
GLAAD president and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis said she had worked with Smith and its alumnae on the rule change. Smith has spent the past year studying the potential impact and decided to join in with other all-female colleges like Wellesley and Mount Holyoke, which have decided to admit transgender students.
According to the school, admission to Smith will be open to include “self-identified transgender women.” The policy clarification, the school goes on to say, “…affirms Smith’s unwavering mission and identity as a women’s college, our commitment to representing the diversity of women’s lived experiences…”
Decisions like this one from Smith are working to do what should be every woman’s aim: to expand the definition of what it means to be a woman until those tired, old, destructive and unjust penalties placed on us simply no longer apply. One day rape culture and pay inequality and domestic violence and harmful beauty standards will all seem like some weird, far-off place we’ll tell our granddaughters about. Like explaining how we used to use pagers to communicate or something. It’s up to trusted institutions like Smith to serve as incubators for women to work to expand those definitions, and the decision to allow transgender students is a beautiful step forward.