By Sunnivie Brydum
Originally published on Advocate.com April 11 2013 6:09 PM ET
LGBT media advocacy organization GLAAD has joined thousands of alumni and advocates calling on women's school Smith College to revise its admission policies to admit transgender students.
More than 3,000 people have signed a petition on Change.org asking the women's college to accept transgender women, even if their legal identification documents do not list them as female.
Calls for a change in policy arose after Smith's admissions office returned high school senior Calliope Wong's application in March, stating that "undergraduate applicants to Smith must be female at the time of admission."
Wong, who was assigned male at birth but identifies and presents as female, was outed as transgender when the school noticed that Wong's gender marker was listed as male on her Free Application for Federal Student Aid, according to GLAAD. To legally change her gender marker in Wong's home state of Connecticut, the teenager would have to undergo gender affirming surgery, a costly and complicated procedure that is often not covered by insurance.
"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 in a statement. "Smith is setting a poor example to all of its students by not even accepting the applications of women like Calliope."
Students and alumni at the historically progressive college are taking to the Web to voice their support for an inclusive policy. In addition to signing the petition, many have posted photographs of themselves with signs reading "Trans women belong at Smith College."
"To me, the inclusion of trans women at women's colleges is a feminist issue," said Elli Palmer, a student at Smith and a member of the school's trans-inclusive Facebook group, Q&A.
"Trans women experience misogyny on multiple levels, making it all the more important that they have access to affirmative women's spaces like Smith."
Smith's policy does permit transgender men — who were assigned female at birth — to attend and remain enrolled at the college, so long as their legal gender marker identifies them as female when they apply.