Wellesley College students vote to admit transgender men and nonbinary applicants

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(WELLESLEY, Mass.) — Students at Wellesley College, a Massachusetts private liberal arts college for women, approved a referendum to expand the college’s admission policy and use of gender-neutral language.

Students voted on Tuesday in favor of allowing transgender men and non-binary individuals who were assigned male at birth to enroll.

In a memo released prior to the vote, Paula A. Johnson, president of Wellesley, said the outcome of the vote is “nonbinding and will not impact any of the policies or practices of the College or of student organizations at Wellesley.”

The college currently accepts applications from people who “consistently identify and live as women,” including cis, transgender, and nonbinary students.

“Although there is no plan to revisit our mission as a women’s college or our admissions policy, we will continue to engage all students in the important work of building an inclusive academic community where everyone feels they belong,” Johnson said in a separate statement to ABC News.

The memo also included a list of structural changes to be implemented following concerns shared by enrolled transgender students.

The college plans to appoint a new director for the Office of LGBTQ+ Programs and Services, offer gender and sexual orientation-affirming therapy, and expand all-gender bathrooms, among other changes.

The Wellesley College News Editorial Board responded to President Johnson’s memo in a published statement. The Board called President Johnson’s response and the Board of Trustee’s involvement as “intervening in student discourse.”

“The Wellesley News Editorial Board is once again stating that transgender and nonbinary students have always belonged and will continue to belong at Wellesley, a historically women’s college,” read the statement from the news source.

It continued, “We disapprove and entirely disagree with President Johnson’s email. As journalists, we understand the power of rhetoric to do good or harm.”

The statement closed with, “We want to end with our unequivocal support for transgender, nonbinary and gender non-conforming people at Wellesley and everywhere–who enrich all communities they are a part of.”

Mount Holyoke College, a women’s college in Massachusetts, told ABC News it has welcomed women, transgender women and men, and nonbinary and gender nonconforming students since 2014.

“Our inclusive admission policy is the 21st century expression of our founding mission to provide an intellectually adventurous education for individuals who have been marginalized on the basis of their gender, gender expression or gender identity,” the statement read.

Other women’s colleges – including Smith College, Barnard College and Bryn Mawr College – have expanded their admissions to include transgender women and nonbinary women, according to their policies listed on their respective websites.

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