Simmons Joins Growing List of Women’s Colleges to Accept Transgender Students

Simmons College in Boston is the third U.S. women’s college – and the second in Massachusetts – to officially accept applications from transgender students. 

Simmons has long admitted gender nonconforming students, but is now formalizing its admissions policy and accepting students born female, regardless of their current gender identity, as well as those who were born male and now identify as female.

Related: Mount Holyoke’s New Transgender Policy Redefines Women’s Education

Sarah Neill is vice president for student affairs at Simmons. She says the college has seen a spike in the number of students whose gender identity is evolving. Now, Simmons is explicitly welcoming those who were born male, but identify as women.

“It really sends a message internally and externally that we invite transgender students to campus and that we have support and services when they arrive,” said Neill.

Neill says that reaction on campus has been largely positive, and the college doesn’t expect to see a fallout in alumni giving.

“Part of what we’re managing right know is a knowledge gap, frankly, and I think it’s something that we need to be responsive to on our own campus and in our conversation with alums,” said Neill.

Simmons follows Mills College in California and Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts in opening its gates to students who identify as transgender.

“We have to keep up with what’s happening with gender and the fluidity of gender,” Neill said. “Women’s college campuses have historically been places for individuals who’ve been marginalized because of their gender.”

In October, On Campus, gathered the thoughts and experiences of women-college graduates and members of the transgender community on this issue. You can read those comments here and listen back to our story about Mount Holyoke:

[Cross-posted at On Campus: The WGBH Higher Education Blog]

Kirk Carapezza

Kirk Carapezza is the lead reporter for On Campus. Kirk has reported for Wisconsin Public Radio in Madison, Wis., and Vermont Public Radio in Montpelier, Vt. He's been a writer and producer at WBUR in Boston; a teacher and coach at Nativity Preparatory School in New Bedford, Mass.; a Fenway Park tour guide; and a tourist abroad.

Kirk received his B.A. from the College of the Holy Cross and earned his M.S. from Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism. When he's not reporting or editing stories on campus, you can find him posting K's on the Wall at Fenway.