Mills College: Now a Women’s College Any Way You Slice It

Women’s colleges have for the last few years had a little trouble with how to address transgender students. Historically these schools were created to help address discrimination and gender imbalances in higher education. Many of the country’s colleges back in the 19th century only admitted men. The reason we have women’s colleges is to fix that, and give women an education.

But with transgender students the question became a little more complicated. Many women’s colleges have become dramatically more liberal since the 1960s. If they’re here to combat discrimination, after all, doesn’t it make a lot of sense to be welcoming to transgender students, who are surely facing a lot of discrimination?

But others reasoned that if the school existed for women, there were plenty of women available for admissions. We need not open our doors to everyone who comes along.

At least one historically female college has decided to split the difference. According to an article in the San Francisco Chronicle:

Of the nation’s 119 single-sex colleges for men or women, Mills College in Oakland is apparently the only campus that explicitly lets applicants choose a gender and be considered for enrollment – if that choice is female.

The new policy will be in place for the first time as students return to class on Aug. 27. The trustees’ enrollment committee unanimously approved it in May, clarifying a host of what-ifs at the stately women’s college founded in 1862:

Applicants “not assigned to the female sex at birth” but who self-identify as women are welcome.

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.”

OldLadiesNow

As long as one might be, in any sense, a woman, admission is allowed.

A student will be eligible for admission if she is a women, or if she is transgender and identifies as a woman, at the point at which she is applying to college. So basically, if you identify as a woman, either the normal way or because you’re female-identifying trans, you’re good.

People who are born female and then become male are not eligible, though someone who applies as a woman and then subsequently becomes a man does not get kicked out, and will still be allowed to graduate.

Note that this transgender question realistically only applies to women’s colleges since there are, nationally, virtually no men’s colleges left.

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer