Smith College's gender and sexuality advocacy organization Q&A recently delivered a petition with 4,000 signatures to the university's admission's office in support of a transgender woman, Calliope Wong who was denied admission because her Free Application For Student Aid (FAFSA) identified her as male.
The advocacy group and Wong have been working with GLAAD to shed light on the difficulty that transgender women face when applying to Smith. They want the college to input an inclusive admissions policy.
After receiving the petition signatures, Smith's Dean of Admissions Debra Shaver said that a committee will be formed to directly address the issues pertaining to transgender applicants.
The committee is expected to start meeting at the start of the new academic year in September. Students involved in the committee say they were told that the private women's college would stop using the gender marker on FAFSA applications when evaluating transgender students for admission.
"The more than 4,000 signatures on our Change.org petition show that support for treating trans women equally in Smith College's admissions practices is strong, both within and outside of our school," said Smith student Elli Palmer, as quoted by GLAAD. "As a committee forms to address this issue, we will continue to advocate for a clear policy from Smith that fully protects trans women applicants from unfair and discriminatory obstacles during the admissions process."
GLAAD spokesperson Wilson Cruz also chimed in on the issue. "No young woman should be denied the opportunity to learn simply because of who she is," said Cruz. "That Smith is having this discussion and listening to the community is a positive step, but the school still needs to ensure that no transgender woman is denied the chance to apply."
In February, Massachusetts' Department of Elementary and Secondary Education mandated that transgender students be allowed to use bathrooms and play on the sports teams that coincide with their gender identification.