August 15, 2012
Make Smith Possible for Transwomen

Hey, everyone: I’m Calliope, a rising senior-gal in a Connecticut high school who is (just now!) discovering Tumblr for the first time. And I have a rather serious personal problem to share with you all that does not involve GIFs, cats, or BBC shows. My problem is with my dream college 

that superspecial place of ironwilled and astonishing women I want to be a part of

Smith College and its policies (rather: problematic UNpolicies) on accepting transwomen into its ranks.

[Yes, before any of you play Sherlock on me, I am a male-to-female transsexual girl. And I am still bent on applying and getting a fair shot at Smith admission, just like any other girl.]

The research I’ve done on Smith’s trans-policies seems to strongly suggest that, regardless of a transwoman’s character and academic merit as a student, she will not be given the same consideration for her application. In fact, a transwoman will likely get NO consideration whatsoever for her application (it will almost certainly get thrown out immediately). This is because: 

 Smith only considers female applicants for undergraduate admission.  (quoth their official website below) 

http://www.smith.edu/diversity/gender.php

On first glance it seems legit. Sure, a women’s college takes only women applicants.

But accepting only “females” gets very, very murky when you actually get down to the practical implications of such a ruling: critically analyze the concept in full, and consider its effects on the lives of prospective students like me.

I present to you, Smith College and Tumblr-friends, 

Reasons why I should Not Be BARRED from Applying based on  the word ‘Female’

  1.  As a transsexual girl, I am still a legitimate girl. Yes, I was born into a body with typically male parts. But I identify and am living as female. Prevailing scientific and medical opinions support the fact that who I am identity-wise is different from the gender identity typically associated my physical body. Consider the fifth and most-recent revision of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V): what used to be known as “GID” (Gender Identity Disorder) has been revised to become “GD”—Gender Dysphoria, a “marked incongruence between one’s experienced/expressed gender and primary and/or secondary sex characteristics.” This is from the manual that all psychologists use to base their assessments. 
  2. Building on the point made in #1, there have been landmark brain studies conducted by UNED (Spain) Psychobiology professor Antonio Guillamon that demonstrate transwomen’s brains are more similar in function and appearance to natal women’s brains, than male brains. Guillamon claims that “[transwomen’s brains and their levels of activity] still feel female.” No one can play the scientific reductionist and claim that we don’t have solid evidence that we are who we claim to be: women in full, just stuck in male bodies. 
  3. PERSONALLY, I have already gone through years of introspection, in order to figure myself out and come to terms with my identity. I have already spent a great deal of time informing, educating, and helping my traditional Chinese family come to terms with my gender identity. I am already working with a licensed gender therapist to go through the standard procedures for transition set forth by the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH)—beginning with months of real-life experience. I have already done all this, and plans are in place to legally change my name and driver’s licence.

**The MOST IMPORTANT POINT: ** 

But in order to be legally recognized as “female” on my birth certificate according to BOTH Massachusetts and Connecticut law, I have to undergo vaginoplasty (feminizing genital surgery). From what I understand, Smith College will only evaluate me as a “real” girl if I get sex reassignment surgery.

If I understand Smith correctly, this is perhaps the most obscene of rights violations that I have ever witnessed from a school. It’s not a loud and boisterous violation, which is all the worse: its sly wording hurts just as much but is hard to detect. By simply stating that only “females” may be allowed to apply and attend Smith, Smith College sets the bar for transwomen applicants impossibly high

-transwomen are most likely not ready for surgery at 17 or 18, the typical age of a college applicant. It’s a monumental personal decision that usually arises from years of introspection and deliberation.

-transwomen may not even feel the need for genital surgery. Some transwomen do not experience extreme dysphoria about the state of their genitalia, and opt not to undergo vaginoplasty.

-genital surgery is notoriously expensive (several tens of thousands of dollars, easily), and many transwomen cannot afford to pay for vaginoplasty at this point in their lives.

TL;DR VERSION:

As teenage transwomen on the precipice of college and high school, in our senior years, WE CANNOT REASONABLY BE EXPECTED TO HAVE IT ALL FIGURED OUT BY COLLEGE APPLICATION TIME. 

I say this not out of anger at Smith College, but as a matter of fact. The institutional gatekeeper policies keeping transwomen out of Smith are unreasonable and not modeled on the real life struggles of transwomen. 

If Smith’s ultimate concern is to provide for the education and empowerment of all women students, then it is clearly cutting out and rejecting a valuable demographic with its outmoded and irrational acceptance policies.

If Smith College’s policies are built on fears of illegitimacy and backlash: men pretending to be women and seeking to gain access to women’s colleges for nefarious or dishonest purposes, there is no empirical evidence that such a case would be in the majority.

I am not a rapist; I am not a criminal, and it is not fair to assume that I am such a person.

Thing is, I’m a girl who wants to just wants her fair shot at Smith.

I love Smith College, believe in its ability to help me grow as an intellectual and individual, and believe that I could have a fair shot of making it into the school if I was allowed to apply. I am exactly the kind of independent, self-directed, studious, and critical woman they want. My scores are there; my ability, intellect, and character are there. It’s just that, as a transwoman, I believe I am being denied unfairly and seek redress.

So, here’s the end goal of this discourse. I know that—gasp—I just made a bunch of y’all Tumblettes and Tumbluttes read a bunch of words on your computer screens. Good. I know that some of you, deep down, actually feel bad that this is happening to college-bound transwomen across the nation. 

But it’s not enough to just feel bad. The point of it all is to rally the troops; YOU ARE THE TROOPS. And I need you to stand by me in confronting Smith about this long-outmoded practice of setting the bar impossibly high for prospective transwomen students.

What I ultimately want is for Smith College to change its policies for transwomen applicants from completely impossible, to doable within reason.

My best solution to the problem at hand is to have Smith take into consideration gender therapist and psychologist letters of recommendation for prospective transwoman applicants. But my idea will really only fly at Smith if I get enough pressure on. 

And you know you are the best people for sticking with me. You are my pressure.

Help me to change what’s wrong. Spread this message around however you can. And if enough people care, then Smith and other women’s colleges may finally be possible for transwomen like me.

  1. ivyleague-material reblogged this from calliowong
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    My first attempt at posting (reblog from http://nicodacumos.com/ ), and it’s important:
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    How did I not know this? Lame, Smith. LAME.
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  28. oddstick reblogged this from skylark11 and added:
    This is my friend! Please help her and spread her story. This needs to be heard.