Campus Reform analyzed 34 women’s colleges in the United States and found that 28 of the institutions admit biological men who identify as transgender or non-binary.
This number calculates to approximately 82% of campuses intended exclusively for women.
The remaining six colleges don’t explicitly ban transgender students, but lack a publicly available policy on the matter. Campus Reform reached out to all colleges and universities which had no online policy available to seek clarification.
Changing the gender listed on one’s birth certificate is legally possible in all but three states (Ohio, Idaho and Kansas). Some states require sex reassignment surgery to change birth certificate genders, whereas others only require a physician note or court order.
Two colleges without stated transgender admission policies available online, Brenau Women’s College and Sweet Briar College, responded to Campus Reform’s inquiries.
A spokeswoman for Sweet Briar stated that “Sweet Briar College accepts qualified individuals whose birth certificates indicate they are female.”
Brenau’s spokesman told Campus Reform that the college “does not currently have a written policy concerning gender identity” and “only provides options for applicants to select ‘male’ or ‘female'”.
However, the Brenau representative also said that “Brenau does not request any additional gender identity information from applicants to or students of The Women’s College.”
No women’s colleges explicitly allow transgender men, people who were born female and now identify as male, to apply. Most, however, allow female students to adopt whatever gender identity they wish once enrolled and graduate.
Many of the women’s colleges that accept transgender students are officially affiliated with a religion.
Four of the nine Catholic women’s colleges analyzed allow transgender students to apply and attend. These institutions are Alverno College, Mount Mary University, St. Catherine University, and College of St. Benedict.
None of the remaining five Catholic women’s schools have publicly available policies barring or allowing transgender students.
Campus Reform reached out to Assumption College for Sisters, College of Saint Mary, Notre Dame of Maryland University, Trinity Washington University and Saint Mary’s College to inquire about their transgender admission policies; this article will be updated as they respond.
The Catholic Church officially rejects the idea that individuals can change their gender identity and has been critical of gender theory.
In 2019 the Vatican released an official document titled “Male and Female He Created Them” specifically warning Catholic educational institutions about teaching gender theory, which the document argues is contrary to Catholicism.
Other religious women’s colleges that allow transgender or non-binary students to attend include Agnes Scott College, Cedar Crest College and Salem College. These schools are affiliated with the Presbyterian Church, the United Church of Christ and the Moravian Church, respectively.
In 2014, Mills College, a women’s college in Oakland, California, became the first such institution to change its admission policy to allow for transgender students to enroll. As of 2017, roughly 8% of Mills’ student body was transgender, compared to 0.7% of young people generally at the same point in time.
After a controversy surrounding Smith College’s decision to reject a transgender student in 2013, a wave of activism began to push women’s colleges to accept trans students.
Smith, alongside several other women’s colleges, subsequently amended their admission policies to allow individuals born as males and identifying as females to attend.
A student attending a women’s college that allows transgender students to apply and enroll spoke with Campus Reform anonymously about their thoughts on trans-inclusive admission policies.
She agreed stated that she wanted “to go to a women’s college for a female-only space” but said that “nowadays, women’s colleges are distancing themselves from that aspect that makes them so unique.”
According to the student, using words like “ladies” is being discouraged at her college so as not to offend people.
“It seems unfair that these colleges are advertising themselves as women’s colleges but then allowing transgender students,” she continued. “I’m waiting for the day that someone files a Title IX [complaint] against one of these women’s colleges and challenges them on their women-only status.”
“If I wanted to go to a gender inclusive college,” she asserted “I would have chosen a co-ed school.”