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May 23, 2013 07:35 AM EDT

Smith’s Student Group Submits Petition to Officials to Revise Transgender Policies


Smith Q&A, an on-campus group at Smith College, submitted a petition early this month urging the college to amend its admission policies regarding transgender students.

This petition comes after an application from a male-female transgender student, Calliope Wong, was rejected from the all-women's school in March.

The group members carried two boxes filled with 4,000 signatures to school administrators requesting them to accept all transgender applicants.

Students started the online petition through after the Connecticut transgender high school senior, Wong, was denied admittance because her Free Application for Student Financial Aid (FAFSA) still listed her as male. This form is used countrywide in evaluating students' eligibility for loans and needs-based awards.

"If transgender women are women and Smith is such a progressive school, we're the type of school that can talk about these things in a real way. It seemed against that mission to deny transgender women." Elli Palmer of Smith College said.

The rejection letter dated March 10th to Wong from the Dean of Admission, Debra Shaver, says:

"Smith is a women's college, which means that undergraduate applicants to Smith must be female at the time of admission. Your FAFSA indicates your gender as male. Therefore, Smith cannot process your application."

The college said that it doesn't exclusively forbid transgender students as long as they are legally identified as female.

The group said that the college has been collaborating with them on this issue and has promised to set up a committee to meet at the beginning of the new academic year to amend its policy relating to transgender students. The officials have also agreed to ignore the gender box on applicants' FAFSA form.

This assurance from the officials might allow Wong to re-apply to Smith College.

Emily L. Coffin, an 18-year-old freshman, was one among the students who met with administrators, Wednesday. She said that the administrators were concerned about the consequences in accepting a transgender woman applicant.

The officials said that it might harm the college's legal and traditional status as a women's college and the college might be forced to admit men in future. But lawyers assured them that there would be no legal implications and the college will face no trouble regarding t his issue.

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