“Spelman College, a Historically Black College whose mission is to serve high-achieving black women, will consider for admission women students including students who consistently live and self-identify as women, regardless of their gender assignment at birth”.
This week, Mary Schmidt Campbell, the President of Spelman College, announced that transgender women will now be considered for admission at Spelman College for the 2018-2019 school year. Spelman College attracts hundreds of female applicants, including myself, because of its principles of community, diversity, acceptance ,and sisterhood. But as I prepare my application, desperately hoping for admission to this sisterhood, I can’t say that I thought transgender woman would be hoping for the exact same thing.
To my surprise, Spelman College is not the first female college or historically black female college to open its doors to transgender women. Smith College, Barnard College, and Bennett College are a few of the progressive colleges to make this change. Despite these changes, transgender women, especially those of color, remain a leading target of transphobic violence and isolation across college campuses. I’m glad Spelman recognized their responsibility to protect and educate all women of color and fulfilled their obligation by making this change.
Not everyone supports Spelman’s new policy, especially in the black community. Some question why black womanhood should be shared with a “non-woman”, while other wonder whether Spelman’s traditions, built on sisterhood, will continue as Spelman’s narrative evolves.
Critics of this new policy fail to recognize the right that trans women have to learn wherever they please. And, because of this, they don’t understand the principles Spelman stands for. They don’t understand that Spelman’s sisterhood is strong enough to combat transphobia, love and welcome trans women as their sisters, and redefine society’s outdated definition of sisterhood.