In a political climate that recently witnessed the banning of transgender troops from the U.S. military, one historically Black college is taking steps to make sure the trans community is included in the conversation.
Spelman College, the liberal arts women’s college in Atlanta, announced Tuesday that transgender women would now be admitted to the school, changing forever the history of the storied institution.
“Like same-sex colleges all over the country, Spelman is taking into account evolving definitions of gender identity in a changing world and taking steps to ensure that our policies and plans reflect those changes in a manner that is consistent with our mission and the law,” President Mary S. Campbell wrote in a statement.
“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,” the statement continued.
The college will not admit male students, Campbell clarified, noting that students who self-identify as men will also not be admitted to the school. If a woman transitions to male while matriculating at Spelman, that student will be allowed to continue their studies and graduate from the school.
Campbell assembled a task force of students, alumnae and faculty to come to the historic and inclusive decision.
“After a year of research, benchmarking against other single-sex women’s colleges, extensive listening sessions with students, faculty, staff and alumnae and surveys to the Spelman community, the task force made a set of recommendations to the president of the College and the Spelman College Board of Trustees,” Campbell said. “In adopting this admissions policy, Spelman continues its fervent belief in the power of the Spelman Sisterhood. Students who choose Spelman come to our campus prepared to participate in a women’s college that is academically and intellectually rigorous, and affirms its core mission as the education and development of high-achieving Black women.”
The move comes as the conversation about who is included in the fight for Black liberation continues. As many activists note, the Black trans community is often left out of the conversation due to damaging heteronormative rhetoric.
“When we started Black Lives Matter, the first thing we said was ‘all Black lives matter.’ We deeply believe that the only way we are going to get free as Black folks is if we fight for every single one of us,” Patrisse Cullors, co-founder of Black Lives Matter, told ESSENCE.
“As Black cis folks, it is actually our duty to not be bystanders,” she continued. “To put ourselves on the line when we see our trans siblings being bullied, being treated badly…it is our duty to say this is unacceptable behavior. It is our duty to fight for each other.”
The new admissions policy is set to take effect for students enrolling for the 2018-2019 academic year. For students or parents who may have questions about the changes, the school has created a FAQ page, which you can find here.