Missouri Women's College Adapts Admissions Policy to Include Transgender and Non-Binary Students


In a bold move towards inclusivity and recognition of evolving gender identities, Stephens College in Columbia, Missouri, the second-oldest women's college in America, has amended its admissions policy.

Starting in the fall of 2019, the college will begin accepting transgender students and non-binary individuals assigned female at birth. This groundbreaking decision not only aligns with the institution's commitment to education but also reflects a broader shift in women's colleges across the United States.

Missouri Women's College Adapts Admissions Policy to Include Transgender and Non-Binary Students
(Photo : UNSPLASH / Delia Giandeini)

A Paradigm Shift in Admissions Policy

Stephens College has taken a significant step forward by amending its admissions policy to be more inclusive of transgender and non-binary individuals. This change, set to take effect in the fall of 2019, demonstrates the institution's commitment to adapting to the evolving landscape of gender identity.

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Recommitting to the Mission of Educating Women

The amended policy, outlined in a "frequently asked questions" document, reaffirms Stephens College's dedication to its core mission of educating women. The document emphasizes that the admissions policy will now consider both sex and gender identity in determining a student's eligibility for admission and enrollment.

Navigating the Complexities of Gender Identity

In line with the broader societal understanding of womanhood, Stephens College recognizes the need to navigate the complexities of gender identity. The updated policy acknowledges the expanding cultural definition of womanhood and aims to be inclusive of individuals who identify as women, regardless of their assigned sex at birth.

To ensure transparency and adherence to legal standards, accepted students who were not assigned female at birth but identify as such will be required to provide legal documentation affirming their gender identity or their transition to female. This requirement not only respects the identity of transgender individuals but also establishes a clear and fair admission process.

Logistical Consistency in Defining Manhood

The college's decision to no longer admit students who were born female but identify as male, or non-binary students transitioning to male, stems from a commitment to logistical consistency. By acknowledging both sex and gender in its definition of manhood, Stephens College aims to create a policy that is clear and aligns with contemporary perspectives on gender.

The school's announcement comes after careful consideration that dates back to 2014. The unanimous decision was communicated to students and staff via email, marking a significant moment in the college's history. Importantly, the change will not impact students who are already enrolled, allowing for a smooth transition while embracing a more inclusive future.

A National Trend in Women's Colleges

Stephens College joins a growing trend among women's colleges in the United States. At least eight other institutions, including Mills College in Oakland, California, Wellesley, Smith, Bryn Mawr, and Barnard, have implemented similar policy changes since 2014. This collective movement signals a broader shift towards acknowledging and accepting diverse gender identities within traditionally women-centric academic spaces.

Stephens College's decision serves as an inspiration for positive change in higher education. By openly addressing the complexities of gender identity and admissions, the college sets an example for fostering respectful dialogue and understanding within the academic community.

In embracing transgender and non-binary students, Stephens College takes a significant step towards dismantling barriers and fostering a more inclusive educational landscape. As educational institutions adapt to the changing landscape of gender identity, it becomes crucial to recognize the importance of creating safe and supportive environments for all students.

Stephens College's decision is not just a policy change; it's a testament to the institution's commitment to providing an education that reflects the diverse and evolving perspectives on gender in contemporary society.

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