Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Reflections at Wellesley

Because of all the knowledge that was recently made available to me during the course in Women and Leadership, naturally an all women's college brought up a lot of questions concerning gender equality. Leigh, the presenter of our information session just happened to be a gender equality major, perfect! The most pressing of these inquiries was whether or not transgender and transsexual applicants would be allowed admission into Wellesley. As of right now, qualifications are based on sex, or the biological, anatomical, and physiological characteristics that define men and women at birth (technically the United States only legally recognizes two genders-- male and female).  This means that MTF (male to female) students are currently considered ineligible to apply, but FTM (female to male) students would be allowed admission and are generally referred to by their individual PGPs or preferred gender pronouns (i.e. he/him/his, she/her/hers, ze/hir/hirs. For the sake of clarification, the last set is comprised of relatively common gender-neutral pronouns and are pronounced as "zee", "here", and "here's"). However, many of the Seven Sister Schools (Mount Holyoke, Smith, Vassar, Wellesley, Barnard, Bryn Mawr, and Radcliffe)-- which are all historically women colleges, have now opened up applications to anyone who identifies as female either by sex or gender (gender refers to the arbitrary socially constructed roles, behaviors, characteristics, etc. that a given society has deemed appropriate for both men and women). According to Leigh, Wellesley is currently in the process of updating their admission policies and MTF students will most likely be considered eligible for admission within the next ten years!

Reflecting on this anecdote, I am kind of surprised that this conversation ever even took place. Before taking the Women and Leadership course, there was roughly a 0% chance that I would have been able to come up with a question like that, much less have been able to hold a somewhat intelligent conversation concerning the subject. A month ago, I had never heard of most of the terms that I just used in the previous paragraph (for example, I never realized that gender-neutral PGPs even existed)! To be honest, when Dean Almandrez announced that this course will forever change the way we look at things, my first thought was "hahaha, if you say so…" but based on my experience at Wellesley, she was absolutely right.

Wildflowers at Wellesley 

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