In a welcome-back letter sent to all of its returning students, president of the all-female, historically black Spelman College announced that the school would consider admitting transgender women by the start of the next school year.
“Ingrid Hayes, vice president for Enrollment Management will convene a task force that makes a recommendation to the president on the admission and enrollment of transgender students,” president Mary Schmidt Campbell wrote.
Campbell dropped a hint that this might soon be happening in her inaugural address earlier this year when she suggested that the school would be moving towards a more trans-inclusive atmosphere. In that address, she discussed Spelman’s “circle of faith” and all whom it encompasses.
“Admission is granted to our circle of faith to all true believers — white and Black, and brown and yellow; men and women, straight, gay and transgender; rich and poor; Christian, Jewish, Muslim — all faiths; north and south, east and west, spanning the seven continents,” she said.
Spelman is not the first all-female college to consider opening its doors to transgender students, as several already do so, including Mills College, Mount Holyoke College, Smith College, and Barnard College. Mills College started the trend when it became the first to officially welcome transgender women after it adopted a policy in 2014 allowing for anyone who identifies as a woman to apply.
In a statement released last summer, Barnard College pointed to increased awareness and acceptance of the transgender community as the reason behind it’s following suit.
“In furtherance of our mission, tradition, and values as a women’s college, and in recognition of our changing world and evolving understanding of gender identity, Barnard will consider for admission those applicants who consistently live and identify as women, regardless of the gender assigned to them at birth,” the school said.
There is only one other historically black women’s college in the United States, Bennett College, whose officials have declined to comment in the past on its policy regarding transgender students. A report from Spelman’s new task force is expected to become available by the end of its academic year.