Students at Smith College delivered more than 4,000 signatures from a Change.org petition to school administrators, calling for Smith to treat trans women applicants equally in the admissions process. The on-campus group Smith Q&A created the petition after Smith's Office of Admissions refused to consider the application of Calliope Wong, a transgender high school student, simply because the gender marker on her Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) was listed as male. Calliope and Smith Q&A have been working with GLAAD to raise awareness of the obstacles trans women applicants face at Smith, and to call for an inclusive admissions policy.
Upon receiving the petition signatures, Smith's Dean of Admissions Debra Shaver announced that a committee will be formed to further address issues related to admissions for trans women applicants to Smith College. The committee will start meeting in September, once the new academic year begins. Smith Q&A also held an informal meeting with Admissions staff, where the students said they were told that Smith College will stop using the gender marker on the FAFSA form in evaluating transgender candidates for admission.
"The more than 4,000 signatures on our Change.org petition show that support for treating trans women equally in Smith College's admissions practices is strong, both within and outside of our school," said Smith student Elli Palmer. "As a committee forms to address this issue, we will continue to advocate for a clear policy from Smith that fully protects trans women applicants from unfair and discriminatory obstacles during the admissions process."
"No young woman should be denied the opportunity to learn simply because of who she is," said GLAAD spokesperson Wilson Cruz. "That Smith is having this discussion and listening to the community is a positive step, but the school still needs to ensure that no transgender woman is denied the chance to apply. Then, Smith will once again be blazing trails for women and setting an example for educational institutions everywhere."
GLAAD will continue to work with Smith Q&A around this issue. You can help set a national precedent for the fair treatment of trans women applicants in college admissions processes by signing the petition and telling Smith College to fairly consider the applications of all women.