In a widely celebrated move this week Spelman College has issued a statement that will allow trans women to apply and enroll in the liberal arts women’s college located near downtown Atlanta.
"Spelman College, a Historically Black College whose mission is to serve high-achieving Black women, will consider for admission women students including students who consistently live and self-identify as women, regardless of their gender assignment at birth.," said President Mary S. Campbell in a statement released by the college online.
The Historically Black College & University (HBCU) joins another eight institutions that have also opened their admissions process to trans women since 2014 beginning with Mills College in Oakland, California, according to Diverse Issues in Higher Education. Spelman is one of the top-rated HBCU’s in the country with about 2,100 students.
The statement also assured that those students who were admitted but transitioning to their male identity while on campus would be supported and allowed to complete their education at Spelman. The move came as a result of a student, staff, and faculty task force charged with re-evaluating admissions policies in the era of evolving gender politics. The group then submitted the recommendation as a part of a five-year plan for the HBCU.
The change comes at a time in which trans rights have been elevated to a national level. This year alone the Trump administration has challenged access to gender neutral bathrooms and prohibited service in the U.S. military for the trans community. Transgender college students are also more likely to feel depressed and report their emotional health as below average relative to their peers, according to a 2017 study by the Association of American Colleges & Universities.
The study, which sampled 678 transgender students from 209 colleges and universities, also noted that about 19 percent of transgender students reported major concerns about financial aid, compared to 12 percent in the national sample, and were even unsure if they would have enough funds to complete college.
While policy will come into effect for the 2018-2019 school year, it is yet to be seen if Spelman will also roll out initiatives to integrate trans women into higher education given the challenges faced by the trans community.