As we reported on Sunday, Calliope Wong, a high school senior and trans woman, is calling for a change in Smith College's admissions practices. GLAAD is now working with Calliope and others to bring more media attention to her story. Media outlets like the The New York Daily News and the Yale feminist magazine Broad Recognition are spotlighting Calliope's story, and helping to raise support for the inclusion of trans women at Smith.
After submitting her application to Smith, Calliope received a letter from Smith's dean of admissions with her returned application, saying:
"Our expectation is that it is consistently reflected throughout the application that the student is a woman. Upon reviewing your file, this is not the case."
This administrative stance is at odds with the growing support among Smith's own student body for the inclusion of trans women at the school. As her story has gained wider media attention, Calliope says:
"There have been so many in the trans community, as well as Smith alumni and current students, who have reached out in support of me via email or Facebook. Smith Q&A, an on-campus group, has been continuing a powerful photo campaign to raise visibility for the fact that students and alumni support inclusion of trans women at Smith College."
Noah Lewis, an attorney with the Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund (TLDEF), commented on Smith College's biased decision:
"The only thing standing in the way of Smith admitting transgender women is Smith's refusal to do it. As an institution founded on principles of educational equity, Smith should just do the right thing and educate transgender women like other women."
While Smith does maintain a page on its website addressing gender identity and expression, its guidelines on admission for transgender students are vague, and do not address trans women specifically. Moreover, the guidelines do not indicate why Calliope's FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) was the deciding factor in her application being returned without consideration.
"There will always be social injustices, but I hope that Smith does revise this policy because no one should have to through what I went through," Calliope said. "Schools should be focused on building our next generation of leaders, not discriminating against them. Going forward, I would like Smith to adopt an inclusive admissions process that reviews applications of trans women exactly the same as other women."
GLAAD joins Calliope in asking Smith to reconsider its approach, and consider all women equally for admission.
"If Smith College truly is a fair place for all women, it will change its admission policies to ensure that trans women have an equal chance to attend," said GLAAD's Wilson Cruz. "GLAAD calls on Smith to review Calliope's application today just as it does any other woman's."