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Smith College to Accept Transgender Applicants Who Identify as Women

In a clarification of its admissions policy, Smith College has announced that it will begin accepting undergraduate applicants who consider themselves to be transgender women. The decision, approved by the college’s Board of Trustees on Saturday, “affirms Smith’s unwavering mission and identity as a women’s college, our commitment to representing the diversity of women’s lived experiences, and the college’s exceptional role in the advancement of women worldwide,” the college said in a statement on its website.

The decision came after a yearlong policy review by the board and an appointed study group. The new policy applies to students applying in the fall of 2015 and thereafter.

A number of other women’s colleges have adopted a more-inclusive stance toward transgender applicants in recent years, including Mount Holyoke College, in Massachusetts, and Mills College, in California.

Smith’s policy came under sharp criticism on social-media platforms two years ago, when the college chose not to review an application from a transgender woman who had earlier identified herself as male on an application for student aid. A college spokeswoman told The Chronicle last fall that, at the time, Smith had expected that a prospective student’s application and supporting documentation would “consistently reflect her identity as a woman.” But in response to the controversy, the spokeswoman said, the college had restricted the number of documents it considered for gender-identification purposes.

The new policy goes further, making gender an issue of “self-identification,” according to a Frequently Asked Questions page on Smith’s website. “To be considered for admission,” it says, “applicants must select ‘female’ on the Common Application.”

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