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Thousands call on Smith College to end discrimination against transgender applicants

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GLAAD, students, alumni voice support of trans-inclusive admissions policy

Rich Ferraro
Vice President of Communications, GLAAD
(646) 871-8011
ferraro@glaad.org

April 10, 2013

New York, April 10, 2013 - GLAAD, the nation's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) media advocacy organization, today announced that it has joined more than 3,000 Change.org petition signers and student organizers at Smith College to call for an end to the school's policy that unfairly rejects the admission applications of some transgender women. That petition is available here: http://change.org/smithadmissions

In March, Smith denied admission to 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 inclusive, this policy turns a blind eye to the many complications and challenges trans people – especially youth – sometimes face when attempting to correct gender markers on personal identification documents.

"Through the pressure from this petition and the campaign in general, I hope that Smith College becomes a more responsible and transparent institution," said Wong. "What that means to me is that Smith College will no longer use arbitrary and legally dubious bars against transwomen in the application and admissions process."

"Thousands of Smith's supporters are telling the school that it needs to end its policy of refusing to consider the applications of women whom they decide aren't 'woman enough' based on inconsistent documents," said GLAAD spokesperson Wilson Cruz. "Smith is setting a poor example to all of its students by not even accepting the applications of women like Calliope."

"To me, the inclusion of trans women at women's colleges is a feminist issue. Trans women experience misogyny on multiple levels, making it all the more important that they have access to affirmative women's spaces like Smith," said Smith Q&A member and student Elli Palmer.

Smith Q&A organizer Ollie Schwartz agreed, saying, "While Smith admissions policies remain muddled, one thing is becoming clear: our communities will not stand idly by while trans women are treated differently."

Blogger and Yale student Sarah Giovanniello has been writing about Wong's story. She noted that, "the support the petition has received in just a few days is overwhelming. I hope that the widespread attention Calliope's case has gotten communicates to the Smith administration how important trans women's rights are and should be to the college's mission. Ideally, the college would commit providing trans women with the same level of support as any other applicants."

For more information, visit http://glaad.org/smithadmissions