By Parker Marie Molloy
Originally published on Advocate.com August 27 2014 12:31 PM ET
Last week, Mills College became the first single-sex college in the U.S. to adopt a policy explicitly welcoming transgender students.
The new policy at the all-women school in Oakland, Calif., now extends an explicit invitation to trans students, making it the only school out of the country's 119 single-sex programs to have implemented such a policy.
The thorough policy language distinguishes between the school's women-only undergraduate program, and its co-ed graduate program.
"Applicants 'not assigned to the female sex at birth' but who self-identify as women are welcome," reads the new policy, according to San Francisco Chronicle. "Applicants 'who do not fit into the gender binary' — being neither male nor female — are eligible if they were 'assigned to the female sex at birth.' Students 'assigned to the female sex at birth' who have legally become male prior to applying are not eligible unless they apply to the graduate program, which is coeducational. Female students who become male after enrolling may stay and graduate."
According to Brian O'Rourke, vice president of enrollment and admissions at Mills, between three and five of the school's 1,000 undergraduate students each year identity as something other than their assigned birth sex. "The purpose of the policy is that we didn't want students to feel excluded in the application process," he told the Chronicle.
Pressure continues to mount against single-gender schools with trans-exclusionary admissions policies — most notably, Smith College — though other single-sex programs are taking steps to create a more trans-friendly environment. Earlier this year, GLAAD cochair Jennifer Finney Boylan joined the staff of Barnard College, an all-women's school in New York.