- The Washington Times - Saturday, August 23, 2014

Twenty-four years after students beat back a move to go co-ed, all-female Mills College is officially admitting men, as long as they identify as women.

The Oakland, Calif., college’s undergraduate admission policy on “transgender or gender questioning applicants” now allows “applicants whose gender identity does not match their legally assigned sex” as of the academic year starting Wednesday.

“Proud to announce another ‘first’ for Mills as we take the lead in recognizing gender inclusivity in a cutting-edge admission policy,” said a Thursday post on the Mills College Facebook page.


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The policy, adopted in May, is believed to be the first of its kind among the nation’s 119 single-sex colleges, which are wrestling with how to preserve their unique role under growing pressure to admit transgender students.

Smith College came under fire last year by refusing to admit Calliope Wong, a transgender student who identified as female but was born male and listed as male on financial-aid documents.

“Smith is a woman’s college, which means that undergraduate applicants to Smith must be female at the time of admission,” said a second rejection letter in 2013 from Dean of Admission Debra Shaver posted on social media.

Even Mills isn’t willing to admit some transgender students, namely those “assigned to the female sex at birth who have undergone a legal change of gender to male prior to the point of application,” according to the policy.

On the other hand, the college allows women who enroll and then change their gender identification to male to finish their degrees.

In 1990, Mills students held boycotts and blocked building entrances after the board of trustees voted to admit men in an effort to boost enrollment. The protests ultimately prompted the board to reverse its decision, and college president Mary Metz resigned a few weeks later.

Brian O’Rourke, vice president of enrollment and admissions at Mills, told the San Francisco Chronicle that three to five out of about 1,000 undergraduates each year “identify as something other than the gender they were assigned at birth.”

The college’s revised admissions policy states that, “Students who self-identify as female are eligible to apply for undergraduate admission.”

“This includes students who were not assigned to the female sex at birth but live and identify as women at the time of application. It also includes students who are legally assigned to the female sex, but who identify as transgender or gender fluid,” says the policy on the college’s website.