All-male Morehouse College will now admit transgender men, sparking backlash over new policy

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Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia, will now allow transgender men to enroll. (Photo: Facebook/Morehouse College)
<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Morehouse College, an all-male college that’s one of the country’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU), has announced it will now enroll&nbsp;transgender men. But instead of that being a step forward, say critics, the policy is too restrictive and actually transphobic, according to the social media hashtag,&nbsp;#MorehouseCannotEraseMe.&nbsp;” data-reactid=”22″>Morehouse College, an all-male college that’s one of the country’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU), has announced it will now enroll transgender men. But instead of that being a step forward, say critics, the policy is too restrictive and actually transphobic, according to the social media hashtag, #MorehouseCannotEraseMe

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="On Saturday, the Atlanta school from which both&nbsp;Martin Luther King, Jr. and Spike Lee graduated, announced its&nbsp;Gender Identity Admissions and Matriculation Policy: Starting in fall 2020, new students who self-identify as men — regardless of their birth-assigned sex — are eligible to apply for admission.” data-reactid=”23″>On Saturday, the Atlanta school from which both Martin Luther King, Jr. and Spike Lee graduated, announced its Gender Identity Admissions and Matriculation Policy: Starting in fall 2020, new students who self-identify as men — regardless of their birth-assigned sex — are eligible to apply for admission.

“In a rapidly changing world that includes a better understanding of gender identity, we’re proud to expand our admissions policy to consider trans men who want to be part of an institution that has produced some of the greatest leaders in social justice, politics, business, and the arts for more than 150 years,” Terrance Dixon, vice president for enrollment management, said in the release. “The ratification of this policy affirms the College’s commitment to develop men with disciplined minds who will lead lives of leadership and service.”

The announcement also notes: “Morehouse will continue to use masculine pronouns, the language of brotherhood, and other gendered language that reflects its mission as an institution designed to develop men with disciplined minds who will lead lives of leadership and service.”

And that’s where the new rule gets tricky, say critics — in insisting that students must self-identify as men during their entire enrollment at Morehouse. If a student begins to transition or self-identify as a woman during their time at the school, they will be unenrolled, unless they are able to successfully petition a three-person committee in a written appeal. It also puts those who don’t conform to a gender binary — who consider themselves to be gender non-conforming or gender non-binary, and who prefer using “they” over male or female pronouns — in a tough position.

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<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="The policy attempts to address this issue by stating, “Morehouse College recognizes that not all gender non-conforming people use the term transgender to describe their identity. As such, we welcome gender non-conforming men who identify as gender non-binary (not exclusively female) to apply and matriculate.”&nbsp;The rule is not relevant to students enrolled before 2020.” data-reactid=”29″>The policy attempts to address this issue by stating, “Morehouse College recognizes that not all gender non-conforming people use the term transgender to describe their identity. As such, we welcome gender non-conforming men who identify as gender non-binary (not exclusively female) to apply and matriculate.” The rule is not relevant to students enrolled before 2020.

But that’s gender policing, says those using the hashtag #MorehouseCannotEraseMe.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Tatiana Rafael, a senior Morehouse student who identifies as a “transsexual woman,” tells Yahoo Lifestyle that the policy may serve transgender men well, but that it is discriminatory toward transgender women. “I will graduate in 2020. However, it’s a sad situation for younger students who will be forced to jump through hoops to appeal their enrollment,” she says.&nbsp;” data-reactid=”45″>Tatiana Rafael, a senior Morehouse student who identifies as a “transsexual woman,” tells Yahoo Lifestyle that the policy may serve transgender men well, but that it is discriminatory toward transgender women. “I will graduate in 2020. However, it’s a sad situation for younger students who will be forced to jump through hoops to appeal their enrollment,” she says. 

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Rafael says college is a time for self-exploration. “People don’t wake up one day and decide they’re transgender — but now they’ll be penalized for it,” she tells Yahoo Lifestyle.&nbsp;” data-reactid=”46″>Rafael says college is a time for self-exploration. “People don’t wake up one day and decide they’re transgender — but now they’ll be penalized for it,” she tells Yahoo Lifestyle. 

The 28-year-old says she is not harassed on campus, but often feels lonely and misunderstood. Still, she notes proudly, “I am the first fully-transitioned woman in the school’s 152-year history. I made history.”

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="In 2009, CNN reported on the college’s ban of&nbsp;“clothing usually worn by women (dresses, tops, tunics, purses, pumps, etc.) on the Morehouse campus or at college-sponsored events.” Dr. William Bynum, then vice president for student services, reportedly said at the time, “We are talking about five students who are living a gay lifestyle that is leading them to dress a way we do not expect in Morehouse men.”&nbsp;” data-reactid=”48″>In 2009, CNN reported on the college’s ban of “clothing usually worn by women (dresses, tops, tunics, purses, pumps, etc.) on the Morehouse campus or at college-sponsored events.” Dr. William Bynum, then vice president for student services, reportedly said at the time, “We are talking about five students who are living a gay lifestyle that is leading them to dress a way we do not expect in Morehouse men.” 

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="A Moorehouse spokesperson tells Yahoo Lifestyle the school no longer has a school-wide dress code, adding of the new policy,&nbsp;“As you know, Morehouse has always been dedicated to educating men. Like other single-gender schools, it is mission-driven. This new policy expands that definition to include trans men for consideration for&nbsp;admission and matriculation. I think that the board’s vote&nbsp;to ratify our new policy on Saturday is in line with today’s better&nbsp;understanding of gender identity.”” data-reactid=”49″>A Moorehouse spokesperson tells Yahoo Lifestyle the school no longer has a school-wide dress code, adding of the new policy, “As you know, Morehouse has always been dedicated to educating men. Like other single-gender schools, it is mission-driven. This new policy expands that definition to include trans men for consideration for admission and matriculation. I think that the board’s vote to ratify our new policy on Saturday is in line with today’s better understanding of gender identity.”

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Read more from Yahoo Lifestyle:” data-reactid=”50″>Read more from Yahoo Lifestyle:

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