Calliope Wong discusses Smith College's exclusion of transgender women on MSNBC

Yesterday, transgender student Calliope Wong spoke to MSNBC about Smith College's discriminatory admissions practices regarding transgender women applicants, despite other women's colleges changing their policies. GLAAD worked with Calliope and the student group Smith Q&A in 2013, providing media support after Smith College declined to review Calliope's application because her financial aid forms did not accurately reflect her gender identity. A petition launched by Smith Q&A garnered thousands of signatures calling for Smith to make its admissions practices inclusive of transgender women. Smith's administration vowed to form a committee addressing the discrimination, but no significant policy changes have been made.

On MSNBC, Ronan Farrow asked Calliope, who is now a sophomore at the University of Connecticut Honors College, about her thoughts on Smith citing the gender marker on her financial aid forms as a reason to return her application. Calliope responded saying that the college should not have discriminated against her based on the forms, and that she and her family were concerned that designating "female" on the federal forms could have led to charges of fraud. Smith later agreed to no longer determine an applicant's eligibility based on gender markers used in financial aid forms.

Ronan also asked Calliope what she would say to prospective women students and their families who say they aren't "comfortable" with her gender identity, and don't feel she should be part of a women's campus. Calliope replied:

"I feel that change is always difficult, however, in order for a transgender woman to be accepted and included…I feel like though it might be difficult for some students, their discomfort does not come before my right to be fairly reviewed."

Ronan noted other women's institutions like Mount Holyoke College, as well as Mills College and Simmons College, which have updated their policies to ensure that transgender women's applications are fairly considered. Watch the full MSNBC interview with Calliope below, and take action for transgender students by tweeting @SmithCollege and calling for the school to change its eligibility requirements for transgender applicants.