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Campus newspaper for prestigious all-women college tells school to stop calling students 'women'

'We cannot stay silent as our nonbinary and transgender siblings are stripped of their humanity'

Photo by Ann Hermes/The Christian Science Monitor via Getty Images

A recent staff editorial for The Wellesley News, the student newspaper for Wellesley College, calls for the prestigious all-women school to edit its policies and language in deference to transgender and nonbinary individuals — most notably to stop calling students "women."

What are the details?

The editorial takes umbrage at the "never-ending reminders" on campus that Wellesley is for "Women Who Will," as well as the "attitudes of students, staff, and faculty members on campus who continue to refer to Wellesley 'sisters' and use she/her pronouns without consideration for who is in the room. These current practices and attitudes perpetuate the ongoing exclusion and ignorance of transgender and nonbinary identities."

In addition, the editorial calls attention to Wellesley's policy of excluding transgender male students from admission and only allowing applicants who identify as women — whether male or female assigned at birth — or who were identified as female at birth who now identify as nonbinary. "Those who are assigned male at birth and identify as nonbinary or identify as cis males are not eligible for admission," the editorial adds.

More from the paper:

On the fifth anniversary of Wellesley introducing its new gender policy, The Wellesley News calls for the College to reject its complacent attitude and towards the neglect of the transgender and nonbinary community. To do so, we ask that the College administration revise its policy surrounding the admittance of transgender male students and usher in a more inclusive language standard for official communications. Additionally, we ask students to reflect these changes in their everyday lives in order to foster a more kind, empathetic environment.

That 'women' word

The editorial also stresses in order to complete a "cognizant rejection of the gender binary," a few other things are in order, such as doing away with that "women" word. It notes a few ideas adapted from the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion web page of another all-women school, Mount Holyoke College, which also includes transgender and nonbinary students:

  • "When discussing the student body, say 'Wellesley students' rather than 'Wellesley women.'"
  • "Avoid making statements like 'We're all women here…'"
  • "Use gender-neutral language whenever possible in syllabi and other general written communication."

"When we reexamine our assumptions surrounding gender through small shifts like language, we become more tolerant of those who deviate from the gender spectrum," the editorial concludes. "And, most importantly, we cannot stay silent as our nonbinary and transgender siblings are stripped of their humanity by being excluded from something as crucial as language."

(H/T: The College Fix)

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