October 17, 2014
10k Names, Printed, in Cardboard Boxes

Hey, all. So I’m asking you all to band together like you did 2 years ago, in our original push for fair trans woman acceptance policies. 

Please. 

Please push this to 10k signatures—share this with your friends, family, co-workers, anyone you think would care to sign. I would like to see what happens when Smith College is presented with 10,000 printed signatory names in cardboard boxes, all asking them for fair trans woman policies at Smith. You know, like Mt. Holyoke and Mills have already done. 

https://www.change.org/p/smith-college-board-of-trustees-adopt-a-trans-women-inclusive-admissions-policy

September 17, 2014
Trans Student Scholarships!

Hey, all!

I know that asking for monetary donations is kind of difficult on both ends. That being said, I’m asking for donations to TSER, an organization run by my friend and fellow trans advocate Eli Erlick, in order to start scholarships for transgender activist students. 

As far as I’m aware, this is the first scholarship of its kind to help trans students pay for their schooling!

Link below; please consider donating:

 http://www.gofundme.com/ckzprw

Thanks, everyone :D

—C

September 3, 2014
Mills and MoHo!—now, Bryn Mawr!

Hey everyone! 

Life is quite busy, I’m sure, for all of us. But PLEASE, please, take a second to sign this petition urging Bryn Mawr College to accept trans woman applicants!

In the past week, we’ve seen victories at Mills and Mount Holyoke, BOTH of which now affirm—in their admissions pages no less—that trans women are eligible for fair application and acceptance.

Let us push the cart again. 

—C

July 21, 2014
Calliope’s Honoring her Parents.

Hey, everyone.

It’s been over a year now since I started my campaign for trans woman inclusion at Smith College, and I’ve kept silent. I’ve not made any dorky Sherlock jokes or started any conversations about trans equality here, although—in case you’re wondering—I’ve been busy with other activism as part of the SPARKsummit intergenerational, intersectional (international as well) feminist organization. I’m a college sophomore now. The administration at Smith has paid some lip-service to trans inclusion since the campaign and petition, although their current policies are still ridiculous and unrealistic for the majority of trans women. You can read about the recent protest on campus here.

More than a year’s passed since that first letter to you. And life has moved on for me, in a lot of ways.

Me, at the beginning of the Smith Campaign.

image

Me, 12:40am, 7/21/2014.

image

I’m a premed-track English major at the UConn Honors program, and I’m both scared and excited about organic chemistry with four English classes next semester. I’ve since realized my gaming snobbery and am finally getting into League of Legends. My hair was, indeed, dark green for a while—now it’s fading into gold-brown, a weird color that somehow feels exactly right to me. The biggest change so far isn’t something that visible, though—having a year to figure out and come to terms and grow into myself has been kind to me.

I’m learning to feel my fear, but not to let it stop me or haunt me or turn me back from what I must do. I’m learning to look after myself, too. For once in my life I am aware that the proverbial Stamina Bar™ above my head isn’t infinite, and that it’s alright to ask for help rather than burning out alone. The past year has shown me that I am a person deserving of my own care, my own shield raised high.   

The truth is, it’s exactly my neglecting these lessons that’s prompted me to write this letter. I told myself when I started the first draft of this letter (about half a year ago) that I’d not draw this out more than necessary. It’s difficult, and I’ve been scared to ask for the past year, and I’m scared right now, but I’ve got to ask.

I need your help, everyone, in raising money for bottom surgery—also known as SRS (a somewhat outdated but still-popular term, “sex-reassignment surgery”) or GCS (gender confirmation surgery). I would like to raise $20,000 by August 29th to repay at least the monetary debt I owe to my parents, who have already pledged to fully fund the cost of my bottom surgery. I can only hope that I’ll be able to honor the support and love my parents have given me over many more years.

Of course I’ve been thinking about all the responses I could get for a long time now.

 I understand there are many worthy causes you could donate to, and I’m sure that what I ask seems outlandish. The sheer enormity of the amount I am asking for does not escape me—but the simple truth is that I want to repay in at least monetary terms, what my parents have freely given me.

I am wordlessly lucky to be my parents’ daughter. If not for them, there would be no activist Calliope Wong—there would be no campaign for trans equality in admissions at Smith, or any of it. I understand this is a great deal of money I am asking to raise. The timeframe I am looking at—about one month and a week—is also extremely short. But our power, in numbers, is so strong.

I know that not everyone is able to donate, and that is perfectly fine. Share on social media, if you’re able. I only ask that you remember—over 5,000 people signed the petition for my campaign, asking for trans women at Smith. With 5,000 supporters, repaying my monetary debt is also possible.

I write too much, now.

Just to say:

I would like to pay back the two people behind all of my efforts, my parents, so that I can finally put the question of “should I ask” and “did I try hard enough to honor them” to rest. Please, help me to repay this debt of love.

A few dollars from many, many friends will win this. I’m counting on you!

image

Here’s the donation page.

Thank you.

Calliope.

March 21, 2013
Simmons Primacy.

I apologize for not keeping strictly to my word—I know I said the last-last post, “Thank You,” was going to be the last post from me. But this is important, and I need your help spreading this. You are my pressure for change, folks—keep up with me here!

A friend of mine, Alex Sennello, just received a letter from Simmons College—another women’s college in Massachusetts.

Alex happens to be a transwoman, like me.

That letter happens to be her acceptance letter to Simmons, with a $20,000 scholarship for her photography work and her student activism in the trans* community. 

Attached you’ll find a picture of her acceptance letter, which she gave me permission to share.

Note that it speaks specifically to her accomplishments as a trans* activist, and correctly identifies her as “Ms. Alex Sennello.”

Feel free to write a letter of congratulations to her at: alexsennello@gmail.com

Feel free to keep the pressure on Smith College, so this might be possible at Smith College as soon as possible.

 

Calliope.

 

 

The letter, by the way, is here (ctrl+ for Windows users to read the words)

http://tinypic.com/view.php?pic=zxsk6p&s=6

March 20, 2013
Not Done Yet.

Dear Tumblr,

I thought I was finished speaking when I wrote the last sentence to my supposedly-last post, “Thank You.” Apparently I’m not done. There’s something you all should be aware of. This comes to you in rough-story form, with all relevant folks addressed using the gender-neutral honorific Mx (instead of Mr, Ms, or Mrs).

I was going to wait until the weekend to write, but the information is the same regardless of how polished I write—and I feel this is necessary.

A few days ago, I heard back from some friends from Smith Q&A (a group in support of transwoman acceptance at Smith), who contacted others on my behalf about the legality of using the FAFSA as a bar against my admission.

Jon O’Bergh, Special Assistant to the Under Secretary of the US Department of Education, gave some clarification on the matter. Mx. O’Bergh commented on the fact that, according to both the Dep of Ed and FAFSA, the self-reported sex indicator on the FAFSA is used for Selective Service only. Then Mx. O’Bergh referred me to Cameron Washington, Web Usability Specialist at FAFSA, for further clarification.

I won’t keep flitting about with a play-by-play of each specific person’s contribution to the (quite-substantial) email chain that built up. However, according to Mx. O’Bergh and Mx. Washington:

The FAFSA sex reported is only used for Selective Service purposes. Neither FAFSA nor the Department of Education cross-checks sex information with Social Security. The federal government is irrelevant in this conversation. All concerns about my hypothetical admission endangering Smith’s status as a historical women’s college receiving federal funding?

Irrelevant, and wrong. The government does not care about my sex marker.

Thus, Smith College’s decision not to process my application based on my FAFSA sex marker is at Smith’s sole discretion. Their hand was not forced; they chose this.

Smith College is fully capable of reviewing my application and making an admissions decision for me based on my credentials. Just—it’s so simple, really.

This is obvious discrimination on Smith’s part.

In case I didn’t mention earlier:

Dean Shaver’s  words to me over the summer, when I was still trying to figure out Smith’s transgender-acceptance policies, were that: “It seems to me that if your teachers provide the language you suggest, all your pronouns would be female and therefore consistent with what Smith is expecting.” She spoke of school papers and transcripts consistently reflecting “female” for my application. Nowhere was there mention of FAFSA, a federal financial aid form.

I am quite convinced that Smith’s supposed transgender-acceptance policies have been evolving with every letter of this Tumblr posted, with every obstacle I manage to clear.

So, Smith chose this path.

Make it a hard walk, folks.

For the transwomen before me, who dealt with these kinds of policies in their time. For the transwomen to come, who should inherit a better and more just system.

 

 

Calliope.

March 12, 2013
A Widdershins Girl: On Title IX Implications Of Trans Inclusion In Women's Colleges

freedominwickedness:

In recent online discussions, several people have raised the claim that federal law requires women’s colleges to admit trans men and to bar trans women from admission on the basis of their legal gender. The argument is that if women’s colleges admit trans women who are…

I wrote a post and shared this link a while back, but Freedom explains really well here the fallacy of institutions using Title IX as a bar against transwoman admission.

(via baeddelshinsgirl)

March 11, 2013
a bell and a pomegranate: Thank you.

spaceykate:

lifeonthisside:

verdigrisfemme:

militant:

calliowong:

So. It’s been a while since I’ve written you all, folks. As far as I know, this will be the last update letter I will write you.

I guess this is it, for now. There’s no chance I can go to Smith…

March 10, 2013
everyone's a critic but we're all too complacent: Thank YOU, Calliope Wong.

polyglotismisoverrated:

As many of you know, my dear, dear friend Calliope recently received her second rejection letter from Smith College. It is not my place to change Smith’s policies; I will leave that up to its students, as I’m sure many of them are as angry as I am about what has happened in the past 6 months or…

March 10, 2013

militant-x said: Hi Calliope, I am so sorry to hear about the admin's response. I'm Mallory & I'm in a group called Q&A that meets weekly to talk about including trans women at smith (our tumblr is smith-q-and-a) & one of my goals is to compile an archive of stories from trans women who have been rejected to use as a record and a tool. If you would be comfortable emailing me (whenever yr ready) with yr account of what happened so I could add it to an archive, it would be really amazing/helpful for our activism.

Well, I have all the primary source documents of what happened. As in, the two letters from Dean Shaver and the emails we sent one another. Are those useful to you? 

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