In March 2013, Smith College, an undergraduate women's college in Northampton, MA, refused to consider the application of Calliope Wong, a transgender woman who attends high school in Connecticut, because she is trans*. Calliope identifies as female and was previously told by Smith's Dean of Admissions that her transgender status would not be a barrier to admission. Smith College’s Dean of Admissions stated that Calliope’s application was returned because of a gender marker inconsistency on her FAFSA, a federal student aid application.
Though this is the experience of one person, Smith’s refusal to consider trans women as applicants reflects their discrimination based on birth assignment. This stands in contradiction to its mission as a historically women’s college, which works to educate and support women of all experiences as part of its tradition of standing at the forefront of women’s issues.
"Smith College's decision not to process my application based on my FAFSA sex marker is at Smith's sole discretion. Their hand was not forced; they chose this," Calliope said after she received her rejection letter.
Smith Q&A, an on-campus group that focuses on fighting transmisogyny at Smith, together with alumnae, students at other women's colleges, and other supporters of Calliope, has come together to urge Smith College officials to re-examine their admissions policy, so that no transgender student applying to Smith College in the future faces discrimination. Smith College should provide consistent support to trans women applicants through the application process and provide them with transparent information about policy and an equal opportunity for acceptance regardless of medical and legal transition status.
Smith College has been a welcoming and supportive place for women and LGBTQ students, and it is time that the Office of Admissions made its admissions policies welcoming and supportive to trans women applicants.
This incident has shown how Smith College needs to improve and strengthen its policies in order to be welcoming to trans women and trans women applicants. I'm urging Smith College to reconsider the admission of this student, and to adhere to a series of guidelines supported by students on campus.
In signing this petition, I want Smith College to provide consistent support to trans women applicants throughout the application process, and provide them with transparent information about policy and an equal opportunity for acceptance regardless of medical and legal transition status.
We believe in a safe and inclusive environment for all women at Smith, and for the college to continue its historical mission of educating women and its tradition of standing at the forefront of women's issues.