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Should a transgender girl go to an all women's college if it says no?
March 28, 2013 - Andrea Johnson
There are more transgender stories in the news.
Calliope Wong, a 17-year-old high school senior from Connecticut, has twice filled out a college application for the all-female, highly selective Smith College.
Smith turned Wong down without reviewing the application because Wong, who was born male, has not undergone gender reassignment surgery and is still listed as male on an application for federal financial aid.
"Like most women's colleges, Smith expects that, to be eligible for review, a student's application and supporting documentation (transcripts, recommendations, etc.) will reflect her status as a woman," according to the college's policy.
Wong has been living as and dressing as a female for the past two years. Wong argues on a blog that no federal law would prevent Smith from processing any application and that the federal application for financial aid is irrelevant and the college should not have used it to deny the application. Wong doesn't plan to appeal Smith's denial of the application and will likely end up going to another college, according to ABC. Wong still doesn't think Smith's decision was fair and says students and faculty at the private college support transgender students attending the college.
Also in the news is a story about a high school in Portland, Oregon that has converted six bathrooms to unisex bathrooms for use by about 10 transgender and non-gender conforming students in the school system. Apparently some of those kids didn't feel safe having to choose between the men's or the women's bathrooms. News reports did not say how many single sex bathrooms still remain at Grant High School. Oregon has a law preventing discrimination against transgender people.
Personally, I think unisex bathrooms are probably the best way for schools to deal with any problems presented by accommodating transgender students, but they should also have an adequate number of single sex bathrooms for students who don't care to share the facilities with a transgender classmate or teacher. On the other hand, this is the approach used by the Colorado elementary school that is being sued for refusing to let a transgender 6-year-old use the girls' bathroom. The school said the child could use the boys' bathroom, a bathroom in the nurse's office or a staff bathroom; the parents said their kid is not sick, not an adult and not a boy and should be able to use the girls' bathroom.
As for Wong, I am squarely on Smith's side in the matter. A private all women's college ought to be able to refuse to admit a kid who is still identified as male on federal paperwork and hasn't undergone a sex change operation. There are plenty of other colleges that this kid can go to.
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