An interesting debate is discussed today in the Boston Globe about transgender students at all-girls’ colleges, particularly at the Seven Sisters institutions such as Wellesley (the school everyone thinks we are), Mt. Holyoke and Smith. Some interesting* excerpts:
But the same empowerment and opportunity for self-discovery that an all-female school provides may also make survival as single-sex institutions that much harder for the remaining sisters. After all, the real challenge that transmen are forcing women’s colleges to face is an ideological one: Is it still a women’s college when some students who were female as freshmen are male by graduation day?
Though a successful transition can certainly be a liberating experience, the growing transman population at all-women’s colleges has created some unique problems, too. While both Mt. Holyoke, in South Hadley, and its rival school, Smith College in Northampton, cultivate what transgender students say is an open and accepting environment that allows them to find their true selves – including their gender identities – there are new rivalries developing. “No parent is surprised anymore when their daughter goes to an all-women’s college and then comes out as a lesbian,” says Kevin Murphy, the 21-year-old junior whose talk inspired Isaiah Bartlett. “But once you get into this, within the community, there’s a lot of competition. Who goes on T first. Who is taking more T. Who gets top surgery first.”
A member of Smith’s Republican Club and editor-in-chief of its conservative newspaper, junior Samantha Lewis, 20, doesn’t mind speaking on the record. “I think it’s ironic that there are Smithies who do not want to be women, and, to be completely honest, it seems to me that it defeats the purpose of being at a women’s college.” While Nicole guesses that the trans population at Smith is 30 out of about 2,500 undergraduates, Lewis thinks that the number is at least twice as big. “The first person I met on campus was a man,” Lewis says. “He said, ‘Hi, I’m Ethan, and I use male pronouns.’ ”
*I do not as of right now have an opinion either way on the issue of transgender students at all-girls schools (I totally respect transgender folk in general). These were just some of excerpts that made me think about the what it would be like being a transgender student specifically at an all-girls (and not necessarily liberal) school.