Students at Wellesley College, the elite Massachusetts school for women that counts Hillary Clinton and Madeleine Albright among its alumnae, voted Tuesday night to make transgender men and nonbinary students eligible for admission in an initiative non-binding voting.

Despite this vote, Wellesley does not plan to change his admission policiesthat they do not allow transgender men to enroll, the school’s president, Paula Johnson, said in a statement released Wednesday.

The ballot initiative was approved as part of the university government’s election process, according to a spokesperson, who said the school does not publish vote counts or percentages. Also proposed using gender inclusive language in college, according to the student newspaper Wellesley Newswhich reported that two students originally proposed the ballot measure last month.

“While there is no plan to revise our mission as a women’s university or our admissions policy, we will continue to engage all students in the important work of building an inclusive academic community where everyone feels they belong,” Johnson said Wednesday.

Wellesley’s «gender policy» states that it «invites applications from all those who live as women and consistently identify as women,» including transgender women, as well as non-binary people «who were assigned female at birth and who feel who belong to our community of women.» The university also claims that it supports students who transition after being admitted and are allowed to stay and graduate.

Of the approximately 30 female colleges that existseveral of the best, including Spelman College, scripps college, Bryn Mawr College, barnard college and Smith College — have similar policies, primarily allowing admission only to students who identify as female. Wellesley was part of a list of colleges for women who in 2015 announced that it would begin admitting transgender women.

Mount Holyoke College, also in Massachusetts, admits students regardless of genderincluding transgender men and non-binary students.

Students demand greater support for trans people

The vote comes at a time when the rights of transgender people, and transgender youth in particular, are at the center of national politicized debates about how gender identity and sexual orientation are discussed in schools, and the accessibility of gender-affirming healthcare, among others. other related matters.

More than 400 bills targeting the rights of LGBTQ people have been introduced in state legislatures across the country so far this year. according to the American Civil Liberties Unioncreating what many transgender people describe as a climate of fear.

Student supporters of Wellesley’s ballot measure say school administrators have not done enough to support transgender students in light of these political realities.

After Johnson wrote a letter earlier this month refusal of defense officials to modify its admissions policies based on gender, the editorial board of the student newspaper wrote that its members «disapprove and strongly disagree» with his email and characterized the university’s rhetoric as «transphobic.»

Johnson wrote in that letter that the school continues to «challenge norms and power structures that too often leave women and others with marginalized identities behind,» stating that «some transgender and non-binary students whose identities have evolved over their time here…they feel that their individual identities are not accepted.»

He said Wellesley also plans to name a new director for his office of LGBTQ+ programs and services to help teach faculty and staff about gender identity and pronoun use, among other topics, and that he was working to expand the number of students for all genders. restrooms on campus.

‘Trans students exist at Wellesley’

Alexandra Brooks, president of the university government, told the student newspaper earlier this month that she sees the divergent views between students and the administration about who should be allowed to enroll at Wellesley as evidence of a generational «disconnect.»

The board of trustees «represents a Wellesley of 50 years ago, who is not at all the Wellesley of today, even the Wellesley of five years ago is very different from the Wellesley of today.» she told Wellesley News.

«I think the point of this ballot initiative is to show the board of trustees and the administration of the university that this is not just something that matters to a few people or something that only trans students care about, but that it is something which is great feedback from the student body,» Brooks added.

Another student, Ailie Wood, who helped write the ballot initiative, told the student newspaper that the proposal was intended to help the university fulfill its mission.

“Wellesley was founded as a women’s college because they wanted to create a safe and supportive learning environment for people who are marginalized because of their gender,” she said. “A place like this should welcome and support trans women, trans men and non-binary people too. .»

Founded in 1870, Wellesley is located on a 500-acre campus 12 miles west of Boston and educates more than 2,300 college students. A Wellesley spokesperson said the university does not have data on how many transgender or non-binary students are enrolled.

in a editorial 2021The student newspaper denounced the lack of inclusion of transgender and non-binary identities in the school’s official data collection, characterizing it as «archival silence and ongoing and active administrative silencing.»

«Anecdotally, it is clear that trans students exist at Wellesley, but we are not given the numbers necessary to prove it to the outside world,» the editorial board said.

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