Should Transgenders Attend Women’s Colleges

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Historically women were excluded from higher education, but in the mid-19th-century women’s colleges were founded in order to give women access to higher education. For many years high school girls have not been interested in attending an all-female institution which has lead to a major decrease in admissions at many women’s colleges, both public and elite causing many of them to close their doors. Originally there were over 300 women’s colleges; today there are only forty-four active women’s college’s left in the United States.

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Seven of those forty-four institutions are recognized as the seven sisters colleges. The elite women’s colleges that make up the seven sisters are; Barnard, Bryn Mawr, Mount Holyoke, Radcliffe (now merged with Harvard), Smith, Vassar, and Wellesley. Five out of the seven sisters colleges are still providing an all-female education, while the other two transitioned into coeducational institutions. These surviving women’s colleges focus on creating positive environments for women, while the women’s colleges that turned coed reverted to traditional gender roles despite their women heritage. Opponents of single-sex education suggest that women’s colleges were established to provide options at a time when women were denied access to quality higher education, and question the need for women’s colleges today now that women can enjoy access to higher education institutions. There should be no transgender women students admitted to women’s colleges because it would take away from the single-sex education, create extra accommodations, and men would be favored over women.

Transgender women should not be admitted to women’s colleges because it would take away from the single-sex education learning experience. According to recent studies (AAUW, 1992; LaFrance, 1991; Sadker & Sadker, 1994), from elementary school on female students are ignored and treated very differently compared to the male students. Women college students experienced an uncomfortable environment in the classroom. Receiving less attention and less encouragement to exceed a professor’s expectations than male students. In addition, faculty members of both genders had made more eye contact with male students, as well as gave them longer response time to questions while women are more likely to be interrupted. Though transgender women do not identify as male they still are not female. Women’s colleges provide a large focus on teaching that is accustomed to the female gender rather than those who just identify to be female.

There are many differences between the male and female body beyond just the physical aspects. Professors at women’s colleges are trained to teach females with the understanding that they see, hear and respond to different learning styles than males. A female’s sense of smell can be 100,000 times more sensitive than a male; females also have more sensitive hearing. This does not mean one sex is smarter than the other they both just need different accommodations in order to have the best educational experience possible. For example, a male may be labeled as a slow learner but really what they need is for their teacher to speak louder in the classroom. The differences between genders grow stronger as a person gets older. Admitting transgender students to women’s colleges would not only be unbeneficial for all of the women at the institution but it also would be unbeneficial to the transgender students because the teaching is not being structured to their gender type which would result in a poor learning environment for them.

Transgender women should not be admitted to women’s colleges because it would create extra accommodations for the institution. Though some transgender women have had sex reassignment surgery, many transgender applicants to women’s colleges will not have had the surgery done. Changing gender on government-issued documents can be a difficult and lengthy process. Some states require proof that sex reassignment surgery has been performed, but most doctors will not even perform that surgery on anyone under the age of 18. If women’s colleges were to admit transgender women then they would have to make some larger changes in areas such as housing and bathrooms, and possibly in the curriculum for a small number of students.

Other than the seven sisters colleges many other women’s colleges are financially unstable, so building new housing and restrooms for a small population would not be helping their financial situation. Recently Spelman College, an all-female institution announced that they would be accepting transgender women in the 2018-2019 academic year. Spelman decided to do this in order to be more LQBTQ inclusive, but it will not be a simple transition and many accommodations will need to be made. Spelman says that they will be changing their class syllabi to include declarations of being an open environment, as well as offering classes that avoid the use of heteronormative language, including in assignments and tests. Faculty members will also be required to post a sign on their office doors to welcome LGBTQ students. In conclusion, a women’s institution can not just simply accept transgender woman students without making these accommodations, and in the end, admitting them to the school is not going to make a big enough financial return for the college.

Transgender women should not be admitted to women’s colleges because then men would be favored over women. The original reason why women’s colleges were created was to provide quality higher education to women at times when it was not accessible otherwise. Now that times have changed women have the opportunity to attend many different types of higher education, but for some young women being in the environment provided at a women’s colleges is what is needed for her success. Allowing transgender women to attend women’s colleges takes away an opportunity for a female to go there, and creates an untenable situation for schools. The vice president for enrollment at Smith College, Audrey Smith, told New York Times, I don’t want to get to a point where we have a row of guys in the back of the class with baseball caps on. But this is what these schools would have in the form of transgender women.

In conclusion, transgender women shouldn’t be admitted to women’s colleges because it would take away from single-sex education, create extra accommodations, and men would be favored over women. Women’s colleges are unique and special institutions designed specifically for young women to excel. Admitting transgenders even if they do identify as a woman still takes away the sole purpose of these colleges. Maybe there should be a college created specifically for transgenders where they can have a place to express themselves. The teaching style at a women’s college is not meant for the male gender, and although a transgender woman student may identify as a woman they still are they male gender even if they did undergo sex reassignment surgery because the male and female body develops differently.

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