I'm not sure who else in this class uses the blog host tumblr, but I do. Recently, I came across a conversation started by a trans* female author, titled "People who attend cissexist "women only" colleges". The following is the entire first post:
Your college is a joke.
I hope you wake up every day and think, “I wonder why my college sucks as greatly as it does.”
But you don’t have to wonder. It sucks because it’s cissexist.
And I don’t know if Bryn Mawr is an inclusive environment, but after reading this paper [tw: cissexism, biological determinism, an anti-intersex slur or two], I hope every person there is ashamed of their school.
I hope every single person there feels bad.
A bunch of Bryn Mawr students (myself included) rushed to defend Bryn Mawr, explaining that Admissions' policy is to accept applications on a case-by-case basis. But, in some ways, I can't help feeling that she's right. I DO feel ashamed that Bryn Mawr doesn't have a firm policy on accepting trans* women: as a school that was started with an attempt to help remedy the hugely problematic disinclusion of women in higher education, how can we ignore a disenfranchised group of women? How come we don't accept their applications unconditionally, and then accept or reject their admission as we would any other student? Why do we have to have a condition on the acceptance of women whose rights need to be supported?
I also find the term "women's" college to be problematic. While it hearkens back to our founding, it's not true anymore. We have a substantial trans masculine population on campus; doesn't it invalidate the identities of trans* masculine individuals for them to be subsumed under the title "women's" college? On a personal note, since coming out as genderqueer, the term women's college has been a sticking point: did I really belong here? I know quite a few trans masculine people who have had similar feelings.
Judith Butler talked about the right to appear. At Bryn Mawr, who has that right? Do trans masculine people who attend women's colleges? Do trans women, whose applications may be rejected based on status of transition? It's hard to say. While I, personally, don't "feel bad" as the author would have be feel, I have spent the past several days questioning Bryn Mawr's definition of "women." As we enter the activism unit of our course, I think it's a valuable thing to be questioning.