In August 2012, my good friend Calliope Wong, who is a trans woman, decided to apply to Smith College. She could not find any information on Smith's admissions policy for trans women online, but had heard different things from different people about whether she could apply and why. She created a tumblr to explain her situation and ask for help, in addition to contacting the admissions office to ask for clarification. Dean of Admissions Debra Shaver responded to Calliope's inquiry, saying that if Calliope's application and supporting documents "consistently read as female," she would be eligible for admission. A policy that requires trans female applicants to "pass" to the administration's approval such as the one Smith presented to Calliope is discriminatory and prevents many who would benefit immensely from a women's college environment from having access to that space. Luckily, Calliope was able to fulfill Shaver's requirements, thanks to generally supportive parents, teachers, and school administrators. She applied for admission to the Class of 2017 last fall.
Trans Woman Denied Admission to Smith College: Why "Just Checking Female" is More Complicated Than it Sounds