An Open Letter to Bryn Mawr College, calling for the inclusion of Trans Women

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An Open Letter to Bryn Mawr College, calling for the inclusion of Trans Women

This petition had 2,029 supporters
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Bryn Mawr College

Why this petition matters

Started by Maria Aghazarian

Alums and current students drafted this this open letter to the college--now we call on the larger community of allies to sign below in support of this letter. This is a public petition that everyone is welcome to sign.


Dear Peaches Valdes, Kim Cassidy, Judy Balthazar, Mary Osirim, Vanessa Christman, and Stephanie Nixon,


Bryn Mawr College has not taken adequate steps towards guaranteeing rights and protections for trans students and applicants equivalent to those extended to cisgender [1] students and applicants. As alums and current students of Bryn Mawr College, we are disappointed that Bryn Mawr has not already adopted a written policy explicitly encouraging and welcoming trans women and people outside the gender binary to apply, especially given that there are already trans and nonbinary students on campus.


Avoiding a well-defined policy does not allow for greater inclusivity in admissions; on the contrary, it creates unnecessary and discouraging roadblocks for trans, nonbinary, and gender nonconforming students applying to Bryn Mawr. The Bryn Mawr community deserves a clear, intentional, and well-articulated admissions policy protecting all prospective students, including trans, nonbinary, and intersex students, and especially trans women. In addition to a comprehensive admissions policy, we need campus protections and support for trans, nonbinary, and gender nonconforming students and applicants. Without these basic changes, Bryn Mawr cannot claim to be a women's college or an advocate for gender equality.


In the past two weeks, Mills College and Mount Holyoke College have released comprehensive policies clarifying their stances on the admission of transgender students. Mills’ policy [2] includes all students who are assigned female at birth (AFAB) who have not “undergone a legal change of gender,” and assigned male at birth (AMAB) students who identify as women. Mount Holyoke’s policy [3] includes all AFAB students, AMAB students whose gender identity “includes woman,” and all intersex students who identify as women.


Of course, when crafting a revised policy, it is essential to ensure that all changes protect and welcome students, and do not cause additional harm or isolation. Mills College’s policy has been criticized for requiring any applicant whose paperwork features inconsistent gender markers to contact the Mills’ Admissions Office to discuss this, creating new roadblocks for applicants. Mount Holyoke’s policy is more inclusive and requires no statement beyond each applicant’s gender self-identification and self-determination [4]. Deliberately including the voices and opinions of trans people in the policy revision process will help to deconstruct existing and potential roadblocks.


The undersigned will support a trans-inclusive admissions policy in every way that we can, including, but in no way limited to: helping to draft, edit, proofread, and educate; offering our opinions and experiences; and meeting with administrators, current students, alums, faculty, and staff. We will do everything in our power to make Bryn Mawr a more welcoming and inclusive environment, and we will hold you accountable for doing the same.


We, the undersigned, stipulate:

 1. Bryn Mawr to commit to adopting a trans-inclusive admissions policy by October 15th, 2014--one month before the Early Decision I application deadline for transfers and the class of 2019;

2. Gender inclusive restroom signage to be implemented no later than January 20, 2015, which is the first day of second semester classes;

3. A revision to the College's statement of nondiscrimination to include gender, gender identity, and gender presentation as protected classes;

4. Bryn Mawr to follow the students’ example and use gender-inclusive language in all College documents and signage, including but not limited to: the College website; marketing, recruitment, fundraising materials, and Alumnae Association materials;

5. The development and implementation of accessible, simple, and thorough procedures for students to change their preferred names and pronouns on various platforms used by the College, including but not limited to: Moodle, PeopleSoft, transcripts, diplomas, medical records, and other university records and documents;

6. A demonstrated dedication to further providing and supporting continuing education and training for the entire campus, focusing on the involvement of faculty and staff, and ensuring that the voices of current students and trans women are prioritized.


Bryn Mawr’s current approach to handling trans student applicants is ineffective and insufficient. As long as Bryn Mawr continues to exclude trans and nonbinary students, it continues to neglect its essential educational mission. Bryn Mawr has a long history as an institution that offers educational opportunities to students who face discrimination because of their gender. The time has come to expand Bryn Mawr's safe, supportive community to fully include trans students and other gender minorities. This fall, Bryn Mawr faces a great choice: return to our historical mission of helping students break through the gender-based limits imposed on their education, or stand still and watch as others make change.


Women’s colleges were founded to provide an education for those who had previously been denied equal access to institutions because of their gender; we live in a time and place where we now know that others besides cis women experience precarity because of their gender, and that the category of "woman" is not a rigid, bounded one, but rather includes a diverse pool of experiences, bodies, and identities. If Bryn Mawr can transform to institutionally recognize and welcome these persons, it would align historically with our mission -- to help make a world-class education possible for all people who face gender discrimination -- not just those who meet the arbitrary and discriminatory legal criteria by which the college abides.





Maya Berrol-Young ‘17

Robin Blue ‘17

Emily Drummond ‘17

Jo Dutilloy ‘17

Erin McDermott ‘17

Bridget Murray ‘17

Kirsten Adams ‘16

Marian Bechtel ‘16

Claire Craig ‘16

Devaki Dravid ‘16

Maura Fitzpatrick ‘16

Julie Henrikson ‘16

Brenna Levitin ‘16

Sarah Moustafa ‘16

Erin Saladin ‘16

Elizabeth Vandenberg ‘16

Sophia Abbot ‘15

Stephanie Bredbenner ‘15

Bailey Cavanaugh ‘15

Rebecca Cook ‘15

Hannah Frank ‘15

Alex Mannix ‘15

Hannah Nacheman ‘15

Hannah Organick ‘15

Allison Rodgers ‘15

Meg Sumner-Moore ‘15

Hannah Winkler ‘15

Colin Baumann ‘14

Amanda Beardall ‘14

Katherine Bondi ‘14

Amy Chen ‘14

Simona Clausnitzer ‘14

Meredith Cobb ‘14

Colleen Hansbury ‘14

Raminta Holden ‘14

Carolyn Jacoby ‘14

Marianne Wald ‘14

Betrice Yambrach ‘14

Maria Aghazarian ‘13

Lia Akhilanda ‘13

Maddy Court ‘13, Class President

Julia Regan Fanelli ‘13

Colleen McBride ‘13

Alexandra Raeber ‘13

Farhat Rahman ‘13

Alexandra Spear ‘13

Shayna Schwartz ‘13

Allyson Bunch ‘12

Renee Byer ‘12

Carolyn Cai '12

Travis Gettinger ‘12

Marisa La Piana ‘12

Aybala Ozturk ‘12

Kathryn Rath ‘12

Stephanie Trott ‘12

Tyler Williams ‘12

Meegan Winslow ‘12

Jennifer Wright ‘12

Mary Zaborskis ‘12

Holly Gaiman ‘07

Rachel Redington ‘06

Jessica Blucher ‘05





[4] See FAQ 4,


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