Barnard College to admit transgender women in fall of 2016

"I think once you understand the human dimension of this, you want to do the right thing"

By Joanna Rothkopf
June 4, 2015 11:20PM (UTC)
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Graduating seniors cheer at the commencement for Barnard College, in New York, May 18, 2009. (Reuters/Chip East)

On Wednesday, the board of trustees of Barnard College, the all-women's college affiliated with Columbia University, voted to admit transgender women beginning in the fall of 2016. The policy now states that those who "consistently live and identify as women, regardless of the gender assigned to them at birth" may attend the school. If a student decides to transition to male while enrolled, that person will be able to successfully graduate.

Barnard is the latest of several women's college to make such a change, following Wellesley College, Mount Holyoke and Smith.


The Wall Street Journal's Mike Vilensky reports that the news comes as transgender issues take the national spotlight:

This week, the Connecticut Legislature passed a bill that, if signed by the governor, will make Connecticut the seventh state to allow transgender people to amend their birth certificates to reflect a new gender identity without undergoing sex-reassignment surgery. And the New York state Assembly passed a legislative package to expand the rights of transgender people in housing, education and offices, but the bill has been stalled in the state Senate.

On Monday, Caitlyn Jenner, formerly known as the Olympic athlete and reality-TV star Bruce Jenner, revealed her new identity by appearing on the cover of Vanity Fair magazine, a move that precedes a documentary series about the star’s gender transition process.

"When I first started hearing from trans students, I think as a human being, I couldn't help but sympathize," said Dr. Deborah Spar, the president of the college. "I think once you understand the human dimension of this, you want to do the right thing. The harder question then is, what is the right thing?"

Joanna Rothkopf

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Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Barnard College Columbia University Dr. Deborah Spar Lgbt Rights New York City Transgender Issues