Transgender people tend to face a number of problems dealing with discrimination, prejudice, and even violence towards themselves due to the fact of their personal gender identity. Even in the most progressive higher-education institutions in America, transgender students still face these problems. The presence of these concerns while in the context of an educational setting may result in transgender students not being able to receive the proper education they need to succeed (Beemyn et al.). Therefore, it is very important for these institutions to implement practices and policies which will ensure the safety and comfort of their transgender students. For a co-ed school, this might seem common sense once it is understood how gender functions on a spectrum, since by nature these institutions would be expected to accommodate people of more than one gender. Even if this is not always the case when it comes to practice, this theory should facilitate the accommodation of non-binary and otherwise transgender students. On the other hand, for single-sex institutions, such as my own Agnes Scott College, a higher-education facility for women, the inclusion of students who do not identify as this single sex, in this case women, may prove more difficult for a variety of reasons. Some of these include the fact that these colleges have been historically dedicated to the education of women exclusively, and thus need to undergo a number of changes (perhaps even costly changes) in order to accommodate these students’ needs. Such needs include gender-neutral bathrooms, additional housing options for those who feel the need to room with those of a certain gender, training of staff in order to feel safe even in the classroom, the “[coverage of] transition-related medical expenses under student health insurance,” and much more (Beemyn). Other reasons include a general underlying confusion about what it means, or what it should mean, to be a women’s college, a topic often touched on in discussions of trans policies at these single-sex institutions. In this essay I will attempt to explain Agnes Scott’s position on the admission of transgender students, currently enrolled transgender students, and attempts faculty has made to accommodate transgender students and to facilitate their lives on campus.
Before I formally begin, I would like to take a moment to make a few notes. First, on the language that will be used throughout this essay. I will be using the pronouns “they/them” when referring to a group of individuals who may be of mixed gender (for example, the Agnes Scott general student body). Furthermore, on the difference between cisgender, transmen, transwomen, and non-binary individuals: someone who is cisgender continues to identify as the gender they were assigned at birth, a transman is someone who was assigned a female gender at birth, but now identifies as a man, a transwoman is someone who was assigned a male gender at birth, but who now identifies as female, and a non-binary individual may have been assigned as either male or female at birth, but now does not identify as either gender. This may include a variety of genders, and is often used as an umbrella term for a wide array of different genders which are not exclusively male or female. Furthermore, I have opted not to focus on any policies regarding transwomen being admitted to women’s colleges out of personal belief. I personally believe that this is not a subject which needs to be debated, seeing as transwomen are just as much women as any cis gendered woman (someone who was assigned female at birth and continues to identify as female) and should under no circumstances be barred from being admitted to a women’s college. I will make mention of policies regarding the admission of transwomen, however, but will try not to deviate. I am focusing here on the admission of transmen and non-binary individuals to women’s colleges.