Smith College — the 140-year-old women's college in Northampton, Massachusetts, whose alumnae include First Lady Barbara Bush, chef Julia Child, poet Sylvia Plath and authors Margaret Mitchell, Betty Friedan and Gloria Steinem — will begin accepting transgender students who identify as women this fall, the college said.
The college said that after a year of study, the Board of Trustees voted Saturday to "clarify" Smith's admissions policy to include people who are born male but self-identify as female. "The board's decision affirms Smith's unwavering mission and identity as a women's college, our commitment to representing the diversity of women's lived experiences, and the college's exceptional role in the advancement of women worldwide," it said.
Women who identify as men won't be accepted, the college said, because "Smith does not accept applications from men."
Smith President Kathleen McCartney said she is appointing a working group to figure out how to support transgender and "gender non-binary" students — those who don't fit within traditional male or female identities.
Sarah Kate Ellis, president of the nonprofit advocacy group GLAAD, welcomed Smith's decision, saying in a statement: "By opening its doors to transgender women, Smith College has joined a growing number of educational institutions that respect and afford equal opportunity to all women."