Smith College is still refusing to make a firm commitment to change its policy of not accepting applications from some transgender women, despite several meetings with students and widespread support for making the process more inclusive.
Members of the student group Smith Q&A, which is working with GLAAD on this issue, say that several meetings have now been held with college officials, but no definitive change has been announced to Smith's admissions practices. It is more important than ever for trans advocates and allies to speak out and let the college know that trans women belong at Smith.
"It's disappointing that the administration seems unwilling to think about this issue with the same urgency as student organizers," said Elli Palmer, a student and member of Smith Q&A. "This is not the first time this issue has come up at Smith and we are not the first students to organize around it. At this point it's time for real change and it would be nice to know that the administration felt the same way."
Student Ollie Schwartz added, "As a student organizer, it is frustrating to see the administration engage us without an understanding of the urgency for change on this issue--allowing trans women in the Smith community is something that needed to happen long ago, not in a decade, or even in a year."
In March, Smith refused to accept the application of Calliope Wong because the gender marker on her FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Financial Aid) form did not match her stated gender identity of female. Despite Smith's reputation for being LGBTQ-friendly, this policy turns a blind eye to the many complications and challenges trans people – especially youth – can face when attempting to correct gender markers on various personal identification documents.
In response to Calliope's rejection, the student group Smith Q&A launched a social media campaign garnering support from Smith students, alumni, and supporters demanding a change in the admission policy and declaring that trans women belong at Smith College. Later the group launched a Change.org petition urging Smith to change its admissions policy. Thousands have already added their voices of support for women like Calliope. GLAAD has also been working closely with Calliope to raise awareness of the challenges faced by trans people, and youth in particular, that most people would never even think about.
You can take a stand with Calliope and Smith Q&A by signing the petition and telling administrators that trans women belong at Smith.