Calliope Wong
Trans Student Petitions After Being Rejected by Women's College

By Michelle Garcia

Originally published on Advocate.com April 30 2013 6:21 PM ET

A group of students will deliver a petition with 4,000 signatures to administrators of all-women Smith College after the college refused to consider the application of a transgender student.

Smith Q&A, a campus gender and sexuality advocacy organization, will deliver the petition to the office of admissions this Thursday at 4 p.m., on behalf of applicant and high school student, Calliope Wong.

"Four thousand people from the Smith community and across the country have spoken up against this discrimination, and against the inaction of school officials," Smith student Elli Palmer said in a statement via Change.org, where supporters signed the petition. "The issue of allowing trans women access to women's spaces is real and prevalent. The trans community is one of the most marginalized in our current culture, and it hurts to see our school not only contributing to that marginalization, but clinging to it despite our call for change."

Smith student Ollie Schwartz added that the fact that thousands of people — not just students — signed this petition will signal that expanding Smith's admissions policy to include transgender students "is not simply a 'Smith College' issue, it is an issue that LGBT people and their allies across the country care about. We hope that delivering this petition will signal to the college that it is time to step up." 

Smith College, in Northampton, Mass., does have a protocol to welcome transgender students, only as long as they legally identify as female at the time of admission. The school's policy also accepts transgender men if they transition after they become students. Wong has identified as female throughout her adolescence, but her Free Application for Federal Student Aid identifies Wong as male. To be recognized as female in Connecticut, where she lives, Wong would have to undergo sexual confirmation surgery, a costly and complicated procedure for a teenager.

 

CORRECTION, May 1: Wong will not join the students of Q&A this Thursday, as stated in a previous version of the article.