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.
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