Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, Massachusetts now allows any person who identifies as a female to apply — clearing away hurdles for transgender students.
Mount Holyoke President Lynn Pasquerella announced this week the school will welcome any biological or self-identified female to apply. That includes those born male who identify as women, those born female who identify as men, or those born either sex who identify as neither male nor female. And students won’t need any documentation to prove gender identity.
“We recognize that the concept of a woman is socially constructed,” Pasquerella says, “and we wanted to be as inclusive as possible, while maintaining our status as a women’s college.”
Pasquerella says there was initially some concern that loosening the gender rules could lead to a co-ed campus.
“So claims of discrimination by biological males who identify as men saying, ‘well, if you let biological males who identify as women to enter, you’re discriminating against me.'”
But she says the school’s lawyers confirmed that colleges can define female however they wish. Nearby Smith College in Northampton — another all-women school — says it’s recently made it easier for transgender students to apply, but protesters say the documentation rules at smith remain too strict.