Scripps Approves Transgender Admissions Policy

On Saturday afternoon, Scripps College announced that it will update its admissions policy to be inclusive of transgender women and other students of marginalized gender identities, beginning with applicants for Fall 2016. Three weeks ago, following lobbying by students and alumni pushing for a trans-inclusive admissions policy, Scripps announced that it would submit a policy to its Board of Trustees for review that would consider for admission students who were "assigned female at birth and/or who self-identify as a woman at the time of application," and would collect feedback on the proposal from the Scripps community.

After discussions among the Board of Trustees, taking the feedback submitted on the policy into account, the Board approved a policy with slightly different wording. Rather than referring to the sex that students were assigned at birth, the approved policy says that students "who report that the sex currently listed on their birth certificate is female" will be eligible for admission.

This means that transgender men whose legal sex is still listed as female will be able to apply, while trans men who have changed their legal sex to male will not be eligible. However, any student who self-identifies as a woman, regardless of her sex assigned at birth or the sex listed on her birth certificate, is welcome to apply.

The updated policy also reaffirms that any student who enrolls at Scripps may finish their education and be awarded a degree, "regardless of gender identity or expression." For example, this means that if a student identifies as a woman when applying to Scripps and transitions to identifying as a man during his time there, he is welcome to stay at Scripps.

Scripps views the trans-inclusive policy as an important part of its commitments as a women's college. The Scripps website's admissions page explains, "Women’s colleges like Scripps have historically functioned as models for what the world could look like if voices of gender minorities — typically women — were supported, nurtured, and valued in the same way as their cisgender (non-transgender) male counterparts. While women’s colleges have historically focused their efforts solely around cisgender women, the broader purpose of the women’s college has always been to provide a safe haven to build the minds of the gender marginalized in our culture."

Scripps announced the update to the College community in an email from the Scripps President, Lori Bettison-Varga; the Chair of Scripps' Board of Trustees, Mark Herron; and the President of Scripps' Alumnae Association, Libby DeMeo. The email read as follows:

Dear Scripps community members,

Reaffirming Scripps' mission as a women's college, the Board of Trustees has adopted a policy effective for students applying for Fall 2016 which:

  1. considers applicants who report that the sex currently listed on their birth certificate is female;
  2. considers applicants who self-identify as women;
  3. awards a degree to any Scripps student who completes the baccalaureate requirements regardless of gender identity or expression; and
  4. does not require government issued documentation to verify sex or gender identity.

The resolution passed by the Board reiterates Scripps' identity as a women's college and commits to uphold its legacy as a "community of women" for current and prospective students, graduates, and partners while recognizing gender as a social construct that has evolved over time. The Board's deliberations were informed by extensive feedback from over 1,400 Scripps community members, and we appreciate your active engagement in this conversation.

The College is committed to an ongoing process of dialogue and education to build a more inclusive and unified community. To learn more about the approved admission policy, please view responses to the community's most frequently asked questions at inside.scrippscollege.edu/admissionpolicy. We also encourage you to explore educational resources related to gender identity and inclusion here.

Thank you for your dedication to Scripps College.

Sincerely,

Mark Herron, Chair, Board of Trustees Lori Bettison-Varga, President, Scripps College Libby DeMeo, President, Alumnae Association

The Forum will provide additional coverage of Scripps' admissions change as information becomes available. For additional background, read The Forum's past coverage of Scripps' initial announcement and an in-depth look at the questions involved in trans-inclusive admissions policies at women's colleges generally and at Scripps, Mount Holyoke College, and Mills College in particular. Scripps has also provided further explanation of the implications of the new policy on their website.