Barnard To Admit Trans Women

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This morning, Barnard’s Board of Trustees approved an admission policy for trans women.  Barnard will admit all “applicants who consistently live and identify as women, regardless of the gender assigned to them at birth,” according to the College’s official statement, beginning in the fall of 2016 (the Class of 2020).

Officially, Barnard will continue to use feminine rather than gender-neutral pronouns to reflect its “identity as a women’s college.”  Barnard will also deny admission to applicants not selecting “female” on the Common Application and to trans men.

Those who transition from female to male while attending Barnard will remain eligible for a Barnard degree, and “the College will offer guidance and resources” to help transitioning students who find that Barnard no “longer offers the appropriate educational environment” for them.

You can read the full statement below:

Dear Members of the Barnard Community —

At its June 3 meeting, the Barnard College Board of Trustees discussed and approved the following policy regarding enrollment for transgender applicants:

Since its founding in 1889, Barnard’s mission has been to provide generations of promising, high-achieving young women with an outstanding liberal arts education in a community where women lead.  Every aspect of this unique environment is, and always will be, designed and implemented to serve women, and to prepare our graduates to flourish and make a difference in the world.  This mission is powerful, and remains vital today, perhaps more so than ever.

In furtherance of our mission, tradition and values as a women’s college, and in recognition of our changing world and evolving understanding of gender identity, Barnard will consider for admission those applicants who consistently live and identify as women, regardless of the gender assigned to them at birth.  We will also continue to use gendered language that reflects our identity as a women’s college. 

This admissions policy does not affect students who transition during their time at Barnard. Once admitted, every student will receive the individualized support that is an essential part of the Barnard experience. If, during a student’s time at Barnard, the student decides that Barnard, as a women’s college, no longer offers an appropriate educational environment, Barnard will offer guidance and resources to assist in making choices that are best for that student.

The vote on this policy is the culmination of a full year of conversations. The Board, led by the Committee on Campus Life, discussed the issue of transgender enrollment at each of its meetings this year. Members of the Board and the administration read through extensive materials; consulted experts, including members of the Barnard faculty; and sought out the broadest possible range of perspectives. And hundreds of members of our community—students, faculty, alumnae, parents, and staff—participated in five town hall forums and one virtual forum. In addition, an online form collected over 900 responses.

What came through most strongly was that our community shares a deep love for Barnard and a desire to do the right thing for this institution. As expected, a wide range of passionate and deeply held beliefs were discussed and debated. But on two main points, the responses were compelling and clear. There was no question that Barnard must reaffirm its mission as a college for women. And there was little debate that trans women should be eligible for admission to Barnard.

Following these months of discussion, a policy was recommended by the Chairs of the Committee on Campus Life, reviewed by the Executive Committee, and approved by the full Board on June 3, 2015. Over the course of the upcoming academic year, our staff will develop a plan for implementation that will go into effect for applicants applying for admission in the fall of 2016 (the Barnard Class of 2020).

We want to thank all of you for being a part of this effort, especially our students, who pushed us to think broadly and to stand behind our commitment to diversity. We also want to extend a special note of gratitude to Frances Sadler ’72 and Diana Vagelos ’55 who thoughtfully shepherded the Committee on Campus Life as they considered this important issue.

On the occasion of our 125th anniversary, it is fitting that we have come together to recall our history and reexamine our core values.  We educated and challenged each other, and Barnard is that much stronger for it.


Jolyne Caruso-FitzGerald
Chair of the Board of Trustees

Debora Spar

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  1. Anonymous

    STUPID. What does it mean to identify as a woman? Wearing make up and dresses? If I don't does it mean I am not a woman?

    Come on. Anyone can say they identify as a woman.

    • Columbian

      If you choose to identify yourself as a woman (i.e., check off "female" on your college application despite having a penis), then you are a woman and eligible for admission to Barnard College.

      No, seriously, that's actually how it works now.

    • Anonymous

      By all means ... if you're willing to live your life as a woman just to get a 20% shot at Barnard admission, feel free to fake it!

      • Columbian

        Obviously, nobody would do that just to get into Barnard -- that wasn't the point.

        Also, you do realize that just because a college has a 20% acceptance rate, it doesn't mean that all applicants have a 20% chance of getting in, right? LOL

  2. Anonymous

    Odds Bwog will report on Emma's porno?

  3. '18


    • Anonymous

      This great for trans women who can now apply, but a defeat for transmen that can no longer apply. They have basically just excluded one group to include another. Is this good news?

  4. CC '15

    This is awesome news! Congratulations to Barnard's Board of Trustees for being progressive leaders on this issue to promote inclusion in our community!

    • CC '15

      One addendum. Any reason that this is starting in 2016 and not 2015? I understand the need for an implementation plan but Mt. Holyoke already has it and it seems to be working well. Not to say there shouldn't be work done on it but it seems like the turnaround could be quicker.

      • Anonymous

        It will start with admissions for the class of 2020, which is the next class. The students (class of 2020) will start in the fall 2016. So it is the next possible year.

    • Anonymous

      not so progressive...after all, we are the last seven sisters college to do so

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