Laurie Fenlason, Smith's vice president for public affairs, said the school does not comment on the status or admissibility of individual applicants. But she added, "Every application to Smith is treated on a case-by-case basis, and application materials must reflect female identity."Female identity... that sounds like they've already worked out the answer for the future. Beyond that, they can't say why they rejected the applicant, Calliope Wong. They're not allowed to talk about that. It's Wong going public, making the claim, enlisting social media in publicizing it.
Smith also has legal concerns over changing its admissions policies, Fenlason said. Schools such as Smith are concerned they could lose federal funding under Title IX, a law that bans sexual discrimination in education but exempts single-sex institutions.
Students and graduates have taken to social media sites, including the Facebook groups "Trans women belong at Smith College" and "Smith Q&A," to show support.Here's "Trans women belong at Smith College." Sample comment there: "Our alma mater is being incredibly douchey...."
They're allowed to discriminate against men. They're more discriminatory than most schools. But I guess that's the trouble. Once you start discriminating and draw a line, you have to figure out who's on which side of that line, creating problems non-discriminators don't have.
For example, if you are going to do affirmative action, do you simply accept that people are the race they feel that they are? Actually, it does work out that way! It's surprising there isn't more chaos around that, but that's because once students are admitted, they make their own assumptions about who is what race, and they are never confronted with the admissions materials. So, for example, if Liz got bonus points because her application said she was Native American, and when she joins the student body, she's a blue-eyed blonde, the other students just see the blue-eyed blonde. Meanwhile, the school is happy to show better diversity statistics. Everybody wins. (That is, everybody who's there, in person, now, wins. The losers are unknowns exiled who knows where.)
But if you have a place like Smith, that's all female, everyone on site is quite aware that this is an all-female place, and they'll notice if a non-female makes it past admissions. The entire student body is activated as a check on the admissions people. Some of those students might be inclined towards inclusion of transgendered individuals, but some are not. Chaos!
Wong has not undergone the costly reassignment procedure.Chaos!