We Heart: Barnard College’s Decision to Admit Transgender Women

457px-2014_Barnard_College_Barnard_Hall_entrance_facadeSince its founding in 1889, Barnard College has been a women’s college devoted to furthering women’s interests and empowerment. On June 4, the college announced that it would soon be expanding its mission to include a more diverse representation of women. The fall of 2016 will mark the first year that Barnard College will admit trans students who identify as women.

In a statement made on June 4, the Barnard College Board of Trustees wrote:

In furtherance of our mission, tradition and values as a women’s college, and in recognition of our changing world and evolving understanding of gender identity, Barnard will consider for admission those applicants who consistently live and identify as women, regardless of the gender assigned to them at birth.

The decision came after a year full of conversations between the Board of Trustees, Committee on Campus Life, students, faculty, alumnae, parents and staff.

Barnard’s Chair of the Board of Trustees, Jolyne Caruso-FitzGerald, and president Debora Spar, wrote that on two main points, the Board firmly agreed: “There was no question that Barnard must reaffirm its mission as a college for women. And there was little debate that trans women should be eligible for admission to Barnard.”

Barnard can now join the ranks of other prestigious women’s colleges that have made their policies more inclusive to trans students. While some are more inclusive than others—Mount Holyoke welcomes transgender women, transgender men and a range of other folks who identify across the gender continuum—we are thrilled that more schools are beginning to see womanhood as something that does not have to be restricted to one’s biological sex.

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons user Beyond My Ken licensed under Creative Commons 2.0



Julia Robins is a Ms. editorial intern and a graduate of William & Mary. Follow Julia on Twitter @julia_robins.