Will historically black Spelman College, once a seminary, open its doors to transgender students?

by Gregory Tomlin, |
Spelman College

ATLANTA (Christian Examiner) – Spelman College in Atlanta – originally founded as a Christian women's seminary – will consider admitting men who identify as women, the school's president has stated in a letter to returning students.

According to Campus Reform, should Spelman actually admit a "transgender" student, it would be the fourth all-women's college to do so.

Mills College in Oakland, Calif., Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, Mass., and Smith College in Northampton, Mass., all have already opened admissions to transgender students.

The shift toward accepting self-identifying students began in 2014 when Mills College opened admission to men who were not "assigned" the female gender at birth but who choose to live as women. Ironically, it did not agree to admit women who had chosen to surgically alter themselves to live as men.

According to Smith College's admissions protocol, that school also practices a policy of "self-identification."

"The college considers for admission any applicant whose birth certificate reflects their gender as female, or who identifies as female," the policy states.

Holyoke College claims it "remains committed to its historic mission as a women's college," but it also claims it recognizes the challenges faced by "those whose identity does not conform to the biology of their bodies."

According to the letter to Spelman's students from President Mary Schmidt Campbell, the school's Vice President of Enrollment Management Ingrid Hayes "will convene a task force that makes a recommendation to the president on the admission and enrollment of transgender students. We anticipate a report from [her group] by the end of the academic year."

According to federal guidance issued earlier this year to school districts, colleges and universities, Title IX – the federal law the government says mandates transgender access to the restroom or locker room of their choice – the law still allows single-sex schools to set their own admissions policies.

"Nothing in Title IX prohibits a private undergraduate women's college from admitting transgender women if it so chooses," the guidance issued by the government said. However, nothing demands it either, making the admission of transgender students purely voluntary.

Spelman is a historically black college.