Also.Also.Also: Simmons Accepts, Praises Trans* Activist Applicant And Other Stories We Missed This Week

Hello, hush puppies! I’m going on a road trip today which means I am having the best day ever. Here’s the stories we missed this week while I was packing.

Goin’ To The Chapel

Are you exhausted from discussing marriage equality with your friends over coffee yesterday? Did you wade through 50 red profile pictures to find the cute girl from Chemistry class last night? I hope not because I have a bunch of marriage updates that need some lovin’.

The WaPo marriage poll is a lie. Ahem. Is support for gay marriage consistently oversold? What does that do to us? What is real? Does God exist? Where are my keys? I lost my phone.

The political fight on gay marriage is over. Or is it? After all, the lesbians of New Mexico want marriage and they want it now. According to the Iowa GOP Chairman, “so-called same sex marriage is an irreconcilable difference with the Republican Party’s largest constituency… Committed Christians.” And GOP Senator Saxby Chambliss from Georgia said he’s not gonna do a Rob Portman and come out in support of marriage equality anytime soon. “I’m not gay,” he said, “so I’m not going to marry one.” Here’s a write-up on his day of reckoning on Twitter.

(Also, is being gay illegal in Alabama? That’s what they told me. Huh. Look at that. IT TOTALLY ISN’T.)

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Meanwhile, at The Onion…

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Today, In Other Laws…

+ In Canada: C-279, the transgender protection bill, passes the House.

+ In Congress: 110 members urge Obama to sign an executive order essentially upholding ENDA.

+ On FOX: LGBT rights make Christians second-class citizens.

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A Reagan Lesbian

Ronald Reagan’s daughter wrote a lesbian novel. I still hate Ronald Reagan.

Former US president Ronald Reagan’s daughter Patti Davis has penned a new novel based on a lesbian love story.

Till Human Voices Wake Us, released as an e-book, is about a bereaved mother who falls in love with her sister-in-law.

Davis, who has previously written books about her famous parents Ronald and Nancy Reagan, said she was disappointed that publishers did not like the title enough to publish it in hard copy.

She decided to release the title as an e-book, and wrote that she was “excited” about the new era in self-publishing.

She said: “Maybe this non-autobiographical novel was too much of a departure for publishers to wrap their heads around… Most writers have books they have laboured over for years and long to put out into the world. Till Human Voices Wake Us is one of those books.”

Trans* Women at Simmons and Smith

Simmons just accepted a trans* applicant for the coming year, because duh, trans women belong at women’s colleges.

EPSON MFP image

Naya Rivera Talks Glee, Again

NAYA RIVERA LOVES LESBIANS.

The County Where No One’s Gay

It’s a hard-knock life.

Statistically speaking, Franklin County should be straighter than John Wayne eating Chick-fil-A. The middle-of-nowhere rectangle in southwest Mississippi — known for its pine forests, hog hunting and an infamous hate crime — is home to exactly zero same-sex couples, according to an analysis of census data.

In other words: It’s a place where gays don’t exist.

At least not on paper.

The Struggle and the Not-So-Struggle

Todd Stiefel, athiest activist and (surprise) authoritatively spoken white dude, compared his “struggle” to champion “atheist rights” to the challenge for LGBT, racial, and gender equality that has consumed our nation since its founding. Who knew that humanists had it so hard, huh?

“What I am trying to accomplish is multifold, he told CNN. “I consider myself working on the next civil equality movement, just like women’s rights, LGBT rights and African-American Civil Rights. We are still in the early stages of eliminating discrimination against atheists and humanists. That is something I really want to accomplish.”

Poor bb.

BOW DOWN BITCHES.

A theoretical analysis of the framework for Beyonce’s new song “Bow Down,” which people are upset about but should still probably be listening to because Beyonce is queen and I will do whatever she asks.

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Fire Richard Littlejohn

Should the Daily Mail fire Richard Littlejohn? Yes. He is the worst.

Richard Littlejohn

Give Me All Your Money and Give Me All Your Residuals

Good causes! Good time to find your wallet. If you’re broke, at least sign this petition for the White House to recognize non-binary genders because it’s free, easy, and IMPORTANT! Just how I like – nevermind.

+ Lost and Found – The Movie:

Lost and Found is a lesbian romantic comedy feature. Set in modern day suburbia the story follows the lives of a group of friends. The two main characters, Lauren and Justin are best friends who are also business partners on the verge of bringing their company to the next level of success. At the beginning of the movie Lauren is dumped by her long-time girlfriend Andrea, and is devastated. Lauren is determined to win back Andrea’s affection, which she succeeds in doing. Lauren learns the hard way that getting Andrea to come back to her wasn’t such a good idea after all (but it has a happy ending, that’s where the “romantic” part comes in). Accompanied by her friends she realizes that life is truly unpredictable and that anything is possible. It’s about settling (or not), lust, love, sexuality and being comfortable with all of it. This is an absolutely hilarious and totally universal story.

+ OUT Youth Theater Project, which is potentially your own life’s story:

+ CHECK YR MANNERS.

QYS-Table-Manners-FB

+ Help Jamie raise money for her abortion access Bowl-A-Thon!

Basically I want people to donate to my fundraising goal at this year’s 4th Annual National Abortion Access Bowl-A-Thon.  (The pics from the 3rd annual Bowl-A-Thon look pretty sweet too.)  Here is my page but people can form teams of their own in NYC or across the country.

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In Otter News

Why, hello there.

via dailyotter dot tumblr dot com la la la

via dailyotter dot tumblr dot com la la la


If you’d like to submit a tip for the AAA, send it to carmen [at] autostraddle [dot] com each week by 12 PM Tuesday EST. Tips for LGBTQ-related events, job postings, calls for submissions, and news from around the globe are encouraged. Baked goods are accepted but only via Dropbox.

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Carmen is the Feminism and Straddleverse Editor at Autostraddle, meaning she helps expand your mind and your queer girl clique. She's mother to the most adorable dog on Earth and hates paying more than one dollar for a good slice of pizza. At times, she self-identifies as "the baddest bitch." You should follow her on Twitter and Tumblr because it makes her feel good about herself when people do.

Carmen has written 586 articles for us.

76 Comments

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    Simmons has done that before, there were several trans people in the queer group on campus, a few of whom were very openly trans while applying…I wonder if its the first time its been mentioned as a positive factor in admissions though.

    also, Simmons sucks and is the kind of place where you’re told to be more sensitive to rich white heterosexual people because they are oppressed by you not shutting up when they say ridiculously offensive things. /true story.

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      As far as I know, Simmons hasn’t admitted a transwoman before, which is why this is significant. You’re correct that there are quite a few trans* folks who attend, but I think they’re all FAAB?Simmons totally has its issues, which I’m not trying to minimize, but I don’t think that Simmons is completely terrible. (note: I spent my first two years really hating it here.) Simmons is a small school, but it’s still thousands of people and many departments. My department has a really queer, queer friendly and lefty vibe, but I know other departments that attract primarily non-feminist, unaware, conservative privileged women. I usually hate taking classes outside my department because the people suck. But people suck everywhere, not just at Simmons. Also, hello it’s a private college, so there are bound to be a lot of rich white people running around being fucking ignorant. Try to educate them and if they’re not receptive, forget them. Focus on the people who don’t suck and try to make a difference.

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        I’m actually done, I graduated and am glad to be gone. It was honestly one of the worst experiences in my life- there was one particular incident that i brought up the hierarchy because it was so ridiculous and insulting and made me feel so unwelcome, and literally NO ONE cared, I was told to shut up by multiple department heads, and several professors refused to write me recommendations (despite having all As and great recommendations from them prior to this incident), and I had mysterious grade deflations that were changed after I challenged them, but were still very suspect. the issue was less with the other students (which were about what i expected) and more with the systematic rot within a department or two. hopefully its gotten better since i left.

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    So many excellent (or at least, thought provoking) videos in this post! Thank you.

    I’m not entirely comfortable with the “keep calm and fund abortions” image, though. I am pro choice. I 100% believe that women should have the agency to decide what to do about birth control/termination and access to whatever their choice turns into. And I understand that that picture is meant to encourage people to donate money so that those decisions + access are possible. But I think that making light of abortions by putting them onto an internet meme harmfully trivializes the reality. Does that make sense? I guess I’m seeing the politics of pro-choice – and all the feminist discourse of rights to choose that go along with it – overtake the procedure itself… and I want women to be able to have an abortion if that’s what they need, but mostly I want them not to need them, you know? And that image, to me, glamorizes abortions. I don’t think they should be glamorized.

    I don’t think I said my feelings very well, but I’m not sure how to rephrase. Did that make sense?

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      I felt the same way about that image. Promoting abortion is different to promoting a woman’s right to choose. ‘Keep Calm and Fund Abortions’ does not seem like a smart way of promoting the very complex and serious issue.

      Otherwise though, lots of extremely interesting and informative articles and links as usual. Especially enjoyed the Youth Theatre video.

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        But the idea that we shouldn’t be promoting abortion–that it’s a tragedy, that it should be “safe, legal, and rare”–is ultimately harmful to pro-choice politics because it concedes the pro-life argument that the zygote has some special significance. Abortion is a medical procedure and no one likes medical procedures–but at the same time, it wasn’t a tragedy when I got my wisdom teeth removed, you know?
        Obviously everyone woman has the right to feel however she wants about her abortion, and some may very well feel that it was a tragedy. But we shouldn’t base our pro-choice politics on tiptoeing around abortion as if it’s something inherently tragic but sometimes necessary.

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          I don’t think asking people not to treat abortion – including the issue of women have access to abortion services – as a joke necessarily means that you think abortion itself is a ‘tragedy’ which should be avoided at all costs? Women are being denied bodily autonomy, I don’t feel like it’s that appropriate to put something like this in a meme.

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          I have to respectfully disagree with your position on “safe, legal, and rare”‘s place in pro-choice politics. While I agree that that zygote/embryo is not a person, and I should have the right to choose whether or not I want it removed, unlike my wisdom teeth (barring some unforeseen advances in science), that mass of cells could possibly become a separate person which is pretty freaking amazing. As such, I think it’s totally appropriate to place much more (personal, not necessarily legal) gravity on the decision to remove it than on a lot of other medical procedures.

          I believe it’s really important to have people like you who take a harder line on these issues. But I don’t think we’re giving away too much to the other side if some of us pro-choicers want to acknowledge that, to some of us, that embryo does hold special significance, and that we want to couple safe, legal access to abortion with programs to avoid unwanted pregnancies (not that that’s the only reason why people have abortions).

          As to the sign, it’s not making me reach for my pocketbook, but I’m sure there’s a target audience out there.

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            I think that it’s totally fine if you want to acknowledge that an embryo does have some special significance for you–I just don’t think that we should be making strategic/ political decisions based on such an inherently personal emotion.
            Like, I would love to be pregnant and have kids, and if I ever found myself accidentally pregnant (not likely to happen any time soon…), I’m sure that the decision to have an abortion would be a lot more significant to me than the decision to have my wisdom teeth removed. But I wouldn’t want other people, especially strangers, to talk about my potential abortion that way. Does that make sense?

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            If the fetus has a heartbeat, it’s a living person, whether anyone wants to acknowledge that or not.
            At around six weeks, that tiny little human is alive-if you have an abortion you are killing your child.

            It’s a far bigger deal than just having a tooth removed. Your teeth are a part of you in the long term, a child is not-they live independently of you (after nine months). I know that’s not a popular way to look at things, and I do strongly believe that it is an individual choice. But to look at fetus as no better than teeth is to-in my opinion-devalue life.

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            It doesn’t matter what you or I or anyone else holds as significant in the development from blastocysts to babies. What matter is that every woman should have access to the safest and healthiest decision she thinks she can make.
            The same woman might feel different with two different circumstances. Wanted pregnancies become inviable. Carrying a baby can become a mortal danger. These things and not our personal opinions should be legislated and funded.

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        Birth control is never 100% effective. Wanted pregnancies can become crisis pregnancies. Policy in healthcare should be evidence based and not opinion-based and that is the problem with abortion rights worldwide…
        Also many survivors would be glad to have the ability to decide on what to do with an assault-led crisis pregnancy, instead of being told to use better contraceptives. We should fun abortions if we believe ourselves true human rights activists.

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          Oh hey now, assumptions.
          I drove my sister to get an abortion, and I helped pay for it. I am ALL for pro-choice legislation. All of it.. I never said I wasn’t.
          Still, though, access to birth control isn’t a universal thing and it should be. Good birth control. I do not believe that abortion should be your birth control. It’s a medical procedure and with that, there are always risks. So better access to birth control is pretty fucking important.
          I push for better access to birth control as well as better access to abortion, and birth control education. I don’t know how many times I’ve heard from sexually active straight girls that they can’t afford birth control so they’re using condoms and pulling out.
          Anti-choice people are not pushing for better birth control access and education; their alternative is adoption. They’re the people that are pushing for abstinence education and never speaking the words birth control.
          So yeah, I think birth control should be pushed for the sexually active, leaving abortion as a back up. A legal back up.

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          Oh, and my mother had an ectopic pregnancy after having her tubes tied. She ended up having an abortion (although, they don’t call it an abortion. Which is interesting to me.) Shit happens. And yeah, abortion needs to be available for when it inevitably does.

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      Hm, I didn’t really see it as promoting abortion, just everyone’s access to abortion. Which at this point can be inaccessible for many people due to finances.

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      I don’t think the image glamourises abortion, but I would agree that it trivialises them. I am so heartily sick of seeing stupid, unfunny “Keep Calm…” pictures everywhere that it’s hard for me to shake the negative reaction to using that meme.

      I guess at least they didn’t use Comic Sans.

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    Ugh, that “atheist activist.” I’m friends with a guy like that on facebook: straight, white, very active in the atheist “scene” where he lives. He’s constantly posting about meetings and lobbying efforts on behalf of atheists. I’m an atheist and I care pretty strongly about keeping religion out of the government, “Christian” morality out of the law books, and intelligent design out of the classroom. Those are actual issues that affect real people. But instead of focusing his attention on concrete issues, he seems to be mostly interested in campaigning against people’s personal beliefs. I usually hate it when people say things like this, but I just want to ask him: don’t you have anything better to be doing?
    As long as you aren’t infringing on my right to not believe what you believe, who cares?

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    Alex, the young trans woman who was accepted @ Simmons, also has a website called Trans Student Equality Resources. http://transstudent.org/bios. She is also friends with Calliope, the trans woman student who’s been in the news recently for having her application returned by Smith. Btw, I note this AS thread from Aug. 2011 where people from Smith were promoting it as one of the most “LGBT friendly schools” while they didn’t even permit trans women to attend as undergrads (unless they somehow managed to have SRS before they applied). Plus ça change… :(

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      I think the thread promoting Smith as one of the most LGBT friendly schools was referring more to the culture of Smith rather than the administration. While the administration is being super shitty about trans*women, the queer/trans* student orgs are pushing hard for Calliope’s acceptance (or at least a fair review of her application), as well as for better/more transparent admissions policies for trans*women applicants. Smith is not perfect, but the student body is incredibly LGBT friendly. While the subject of trans*women at Smith is certainly controversial, the student body overall seems to be in favor of Smith admitting trans*women and is taking action and having conversations with the administration in order to create change.

      Personally speaking, as someone who came out as a lesbian at 14 in a fairly unfriendly environment, coming to Smith was a life-changing experience for me – for once I felt surrounded and supported by other queers, rather than as if my sexuality was something I had to apologize or make up for. Learning about trans* issues at Smith also helped me realize that I identify as genderqueer, and again, it was an incredibly supportive environment for me to come out in. I’m now a recent Smith alum, and I have yet to find an environment comparable to Smith in its queer-friendliness. I think it’s important to recognize the amazing things that such a community can do for a young queer person, and to then push that much harder for places like Smith to be inclusive of trans*women, who certainly also need to be a part of women’s (and queer women’s) spaces.

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        Yes, I get what you’re saying and how positive an environment Smith can be for queer-ID’d FAAB women. I’m glad it worked so well for you. But the fact remains, if you’re a young trans woman you can’t even attend the school. It’s nice to talk about all the other positives, but what does that even mean if you can’t attend the school? As I wrote in the 8/11 thread, there are tons of public and private schools which have been extremely accommodating to trans people of all identities, so to pretend that Smith is so “queer-positive” except for this issue is just an excuse. Nor, do I believe, a school’s administration can be isolated out from the school’s overall reputation. The administration, financial structure and faculty have everything to do with the school’s culture, whether the students are socially more advanced than the administrators (which they probably are at most colleges). Which is to say, I’m glad Smith and certain other Seven Sisters schools are being challenged on this issue again… they deserve it.

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          I’m sorry, that’s not what I was saying at all. My point was that rather than writing Smith off as not queer-friendly, we should acknowledge how queer-friendly it is for the students who can attend and work toward making it even more queer-friendly for trans*women. I was not at all implying that we should ignore the issue of trans*women exclusion just because Smith is a great place for FAAB queers; in fact, my opinion is the opposite. I do disagree with your point about separating the administration from the student body. While both aspects of the college contribute to the school’s overall reputation, the fact remains that the students and administration do not see eye to eye on this issue, and many students at Smith are fighting with the administration for the right of trans*women to attend.

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            And if you read what I said, I never stated Smith isn’t Queer friendly (or even suggested it), only that it’s only friendly and accepting of a very specific part of the queer spectrum while excluding another… remember, the people this post and issue was concerning. Students, administration, and investments are all part of a school’s culture whether you like it or not. Students in the 70s understood that their school having investments in Apartheid South Africa reflected on them and their educational institution and got their schools to divest. People attending Smith not actively protesting the school’s policy towards exclusion of trans women are, IMO, tacitly approving of it. And I have also heard Smith students (and certainly alumni) who actually agree with the administration’s policies. It’s not an all or nothing issue, but I’m really tired of hearing excuses for this highly discriminatory practice being whitewashed because it’s supposedly such a queer-friendly place.

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            Your comment implied that you don’t think Smith is queer friendly (or LGBT friendly, since that’s the term you used). My response is simply that the culture there is queer friendly, the administration is not as queer friendly as many of the students, and students are actively protesting the administration’s policies that exclude trans*women. Certainly not everyone agrees that trans*women should attend Smith, but from what I have heard so far (from my girlfriend who is still a student), the only student activism is in favor of trans*women attending. The only alum group I’ve seen against trans*women at Smith has 34 members, and not all of them are actual Smith alums. I’m certainly not trying to excuse discrimination, and I apologize if my comment came off that way.

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            Nothing of the sort was implied by my comment. It was referring to a thread (from 1 1/2 years ago) about the “most LGBT friendly schools.” Many people from AS were convinced Smith is a school which belonged on that list. I replied that any school which specifically doesn’t even admit specific portions of the trans and queer communities has no business being on the “most LGBT friendly” list. That doesn’t mean I think Smith is unwelcoming to the queer students it admits, just that I find it disturbing how people are willing to ignore obvious discrimination when it’s towards a group to which they don’t belong. I could name a great many schools which have more thoroughly implemented policies towards acknowledging and admitting trans students than Smith does so Smith is neither at the bottom or the top when it comes to LGBT or queer acceptance. And you seem to ignore the impact that fundraising and alumni concerns have on this issue. Schools are NOT just about their students… they’re businesses and money making concerns. Smith has a huge endowment and they don’t want to ‘rock the boat.’

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            (The reply button isn’t appearing on your last comment, so I’m replying to myself.)

            “And you seem to ignore the impact that fundraising and alumni concerns have on this issue. Schools are NOT just about their students… they’re businesses and money making concerns. Smith has a huge endowment and they don’t want to ‘rock the boat.’”

            I don’t understand what this means? I know that. I stated that the only alums I’ve seen actively protesting trans*women at Smith were in a small facebook group of 34, and some of them were not Smith alums (such as Cathy Brennan). In contrast, I know of at least one open letter to the administration from alums in support of trans*women at Smith, and I believe that letter had over 100 signatures on it. I’m well aware that Smith doesn’t want to rock the boat; that does not change the fact that students are protesting the exclusion of trans*women.

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        I’m sorry if I sound too bitter, and I may be wrong about this, but I think it’s more important to point out how Smith as an institution keeps screwing over one segment of the LBT community than to pat it on the back for being so nice to everyone else and gently suggest it could be better. As a trans woman who wishes she could have gone to a women’s college for undergrad and was prevented from doing so by (1) not being out and (2) not being out largely because of opinions that I’m not a “real woman” like those of the Smith administration, I don’t find much solace in the idea that the student body would have probably been alright with me had I made it in.

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          Please see my above comment in response to ginapdx. I completely agree with you; my comment was not intended to be a defense of Smith’s transmisogynistic policies. Rather, I believe that because Smith is such a great place for FAAB queers, the students who attend Smith have even more of a responsibility to fight for trans*women’s inclusion.

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            I guess I just felt kind of left out of the definition of “queer women” or just footnoted again when a place that excludes women like me was labeled “queer-friendly” and thought that Gina was being chastised for raining on the queer parade by bringing up trans-women-exclusion there. I apologize for misinterpreting your comment and I don’t mean to minimize the positive experiences you and other FAAB queer people have had at Smith.

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          I’m really sorry you were not able to got to a women´s college as undergrad, I know as a recent Smith Alum that they really do provide an outstanding education. However, I do believe that you are being a little to harsh on Smith’s administration, while yes the administration could have a better policy for trans* identified applicants and students, I sincerely believe the administration is trying to a good job, as evidenced by the fact that Dean Shaver personally took interest in Calliope’s situation. Also, the fact that this discussion is even being had at Smith (how many women or co-ed colleges can you name that have had such an intense conversation about how to include trans* students?) is evidence of how progressive, inclusive and open Smith’s administration and student body is. It’s a sad situation because clearly Calliope is passionate about the school and, at least to me, she seems like a qualified applicant. However, Smith is a women’s college and in order to maintain that legal status it can only process applications submitted by students who are legally identified as women. Because, as much as gender is a social construct, it also happens to be a legal construct, and the society we live in is a legal society. Therefore, the administration’s hands are tied if they want to continue to be recognized as a women’s college under the law. I hope that in the future such legal issues will not come in the way of admitting trans* students at schools like Smith.

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            “how many women or co-ed colleges can you name that have had such an intense conversation about how to include trans* students?”

            Um, Mel, most non-religious, non-military coed colleges and universities have had conversations about how to include trans students… moreover, they ADMIT trans students. You honestly think because people at Smith talks the talk about being inclusive to trans students makes them above a school which actually admits such students?

            “Smith is a women’s college and in order to maintain that legal status it can only process applications submitted by students who are legally identified as women.”

            May I ask what ‘legal’ status you’re talking about? What exactly is the legal status of being an all women’s school which can only admit ‘legal’ women? There is no such thing. Show me a law they would be breaking by admitting a trans woman student who hadn’t changed her legal gender. It has zero to do with the law and everything to do with alumni and fundraising who are still uncomfortable with trans people, specially the very concept of trans women at their school.

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            Wait, does Smith do karyotyping? Because the people who write out birth certificates don’t do that either. At the very least, I assume Smith doesn’t do genital checks. At least acknowledge the specifics of the distinction you’re making when you say “biological male” or “biological female” if you’re going to talk about “realism.”

            If you meant to say that Calliope was assigned male at birth, yes she was. I assume your daughter was assigned female at birth and is content to identify as female so far. That’s well and good for her, and it looks like Smith is a great place for her to go and is likely to let her in. But how come the comfort of the trans women applicants never matter, even over that of someone like yourself, who would have only a vicarious comfort issue that your daughter might not even feel? Is it such an impossible standard to just trust someone who goes to the trouble of living her life presenting as female in a world where there are pressures great and small against such behavior that she is, in fact, female in a way that matters?

            I also don’t appreciate you defining trans women by our genitals. Congrats on “physical reality” lining up for you, though. You must be extremely proud of the accomplishment of being content to identify as the sex you were assigned at birth.

            None of us condemned Smith out of hand. We took objection to the general label of “LGBT-friendly” it was given when, like so much else in this world, it shuns a specific and extremely oppressed subset of the LGBT community. Just like in your comment, we’re often a footnote or token at best and completely excluded from the definition of “woman” at worst. I think that mischaracterizing my expression of disdain at Smith’s admissions policies is unfair and unwise, and suggest that you find some basis other than self-interest and over-simplification of the issues to dismiss the concerns of trans women.

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            you don’t look insane! we’re now removing the text of comments that violate our policy, even if these comments have replies. before, we felt somewhat obligated to leave the text intact so readers could see what the replies were referring to. (if a comment was in violation of our policy and hadn’t received any replies yet, we deleted them entirely.)

            unfortunately, because there’s been such an increase in these kinds of comments lately, we’ve moved on to deleting the offensive text and referring these commenters to our policy page, in hopes that they learn from both the replies that were left behind for them and the commenting policy in general.

            i hope this all made sense! and thank you for participating in the conversation here.

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            Ah. I meant more that the structure and word choice in my reply was a play on the structure and word choice of the comment I was replying to, and now my comment looks just as wacky. The feeling I get from the original comment being gone is strange and frightening, but not altogether unpleasant.

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            And why are you “just not” interested? If you can’t discuss why, you can’t unilaterally decide that your position is not transphobic/cissexist.

            Let’s also get into biology. What are the aspects that “make” someone a biological male? People are assigned one of two sexes at birth. Are they assigned based on genitalia? Based on chromosomal make-up? Based on hormonal concentrations? Based on secondary sex characteristics? All of these aspects go into sex assignment, and guess what – there aren’t only two combinations that occur!

            Now let’s get into gender – which is not based on biological attributes. There are loads of different gender identities.

            Now, Smith identifies as a women’s-only college. “Women” is a gender (female is a sex classification). Are you advocating that Smith change their acceptance policy to “only people with vaginas and uteri”? Should each student have a medical check-up to ensure that they only have a certain kind of genitalia? Should we check their chromosomal make-up to make sure it’s XX? After all, there are women without vaginas or uteri. There are even people who are female assigned at birth who are without vaginas or uteri, or who have an XY chromosomal make-up.

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      As a (not very recent) Smith alum, I was extremely disappointed by Smith’s decision regarding Calliope. Smith was founded to address discrimination in access to education and should continue to be on the forefront of progress in this area. Knowing the administration there, I assume this decision was based on a fear of losing almunae financial support…so I wrote the development office a letter indicating that I would be suspending my annual donation until they developed an admission policy that is inclusive of trans women. I would encourage other Smithies to do the same. (I don’t think my donations were enough to turn any heads, really, it’s the principle.) I hope they change the policy soon, I really loved college and I want other students to have the opportunities I did, but I just can’t continue to support them at this time.

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        @ Disappointed…

        Don’t sell yourself or your act of defiance short. That’s exactly the kind of action which needs to be taken at all monetary levels. I really appreciate what you did and, believe, if more people cared enough to bring this up when it comes to raising funds, Smith’s administration (and financial structure) would be implementing a policy change post haste.

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        As a fairly recent Smith alum, I don’t have any donations to withdraw, but I’m so glad to hear that alums like you are advocating for change by withdrawing your support. Thank you! It does seem like Smith’s approach has a lot more to do with money and donations than legal technicalities, particularly when other colleges are admitting Transwomen. I was very disappointed by how the Smith administration handled Calliope’s case, and I think many other students and alums were, too.

        As a side note, I’d just like to add that, as with any college, you encounter a mix of people at Smith. While the overwhelming majority of the student body is LGBT friendly, there are some who are not. And I saw many students who were more friendly to some parts of the LGBT spectrum than others. Bi-phobia was a pretty big thing in some circles, for instance. I can’t speak for anyone else, but I suspect the population is slightly more split when it comes to trans inclusion. And there are so many instances where the administration has a different agenda than the student body. So it’s always a work in progress, but I really wish the administration would step it up and start cozying up to the right side of history.

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    I attend a women’s college, and I am firmly of the belief that these women-only spaces are needed, just as I advocate for HBCUs. I think women’s colleges are continually in the position of trans guys demanding acceptance as students as well as trans women, and so they go with what’s on the birth certificate because it’s easiest.
    I do think that FAAB-only spaces are important, which would include cis women and trans guys, and maybe that’s why trans guys push for acceptance in women’s colleges, because that’s what they believe women’s spaces to be? I don’t agree, though, that that’s what women’s colleges are for. Women’s colleges don’t focus on how their students were as little girls, they focus on what strong women they can send out into the world.
    All that to say, I think it might help a little if trans guys stopped demanding acceptance in women’s colleges. I firmly believe it would help to bring about acceptance of trans women in these spaces.

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      “I do think that FAAB-only spaces are important, which would include cis women and trans guys, and maybe that’s why trans guys push for acceptance in women’s colleges, because that’s what they believe women’s spaces to be?”

      I don’t want to speak for trans guys and why they’re at those schools. But it’s my understanding that the vast majority of the trans men and transmasculine people going to women-only schools primarily applied there ID’ing on some level as women only to have a voyage of discovery while they were attending that they no longer ID’d as women. (but if you know of examples of trans men who applied to schools like Smith with the preconceived idea of transitioning while there I’d be interested to hear them). As to why they continue to stay at those schools after no longer being woman-ID’d I suspect is more complicated than “I’m FAAB, therefore I’m better off at a school like Smith.” A lot of trans guys (but not all) have big issues with even being included in the category of FAAB at all. I suspect the schools using birth certificates as the official marker of gender identity has more to do with ciscentrism and old school assumptions than because it’s easiest. Note that in a number of states, trans people still can’t change their birth certificate at all… so that is a highly discriminatory criteria on many levels. And while I’m in general not in favor of trans men attending women’s only schools, I don’t think it’s fair to hold them as being responsible for why trans women aren’t accepted in such spaces.

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        I do know a guy who had started openly identifying as trans before going to my women’s college. He had the acceptance of his parents and everything. That’s why I said what I said, because that’s my experience with it.
        The administration did NOT know what to do with him. I don’t think he really knew what he was doing, either, in coming.

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          What he was doing was destroying the conditions under which us trans* women could ever have access to women’s space by making them all-gender / no-cis-boys-allowed space instead.

          IMO, when a man goes to a women’s school, it is a misogynistic act. It is an act which says, “This belongs to me. I own this space.”

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            Honestly I don’t think the particular guy I know was that intelligent to purposely think that through. Was it an accidental consequence? Yeah, totally. But he definitely didn’t plan it out.
            He was an extremely privileged white dude who ended up throwing a jar of jelly beans at the director of student services’ head and a baby gate at the head of security. So yeah, REALLY not the most intelligent guy.

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      I’m just curious as to why FAAB-only spaces are needed. I’m not saying they aren’t, because I don’t know; I’m wondering why some people think they are. Are we as a group so horrible or annoying or something that people need to get away from us?

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        I did not mean to derail this thread. I was just trying to understand the logic behind trans guys entering women’s colleges, as someone who had a trans guy at her school who had started transition before even applying to the school.
        But you asked, so I think there are a variety of really important issues that apply to FAAB people that don’t to others? Abortion and access to birth control for the purpose of birth control namely. Obviously, trans women can and should advocate for those things, but it should be in an entirely different way than those it immediately affects, in my humble opinion, just as I should speak out against transmisogynistic things in an entirely different way than trans women
        I’ve read plenty of things by trans women and men that state that these things are FAAB issues instead of women’s issues so that’s the opinion I take.
        Child brides, sex-specific abortions, and female circumcision and related genital mutilations are other, more specific examples I can think of off the top of my head.

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          I want to add that I do not agree with Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival policies, or the like. I just think very occasionally, there needs to be a safe space to speak on really important issues related to those of us who have to deal with the aforementioned things.

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          I think saying people with uteruses or people with vaginas or people with whatever specific to those issues is better than saying FAAB people. There are people who were FAAB who don’t have uteruses or vaginas. Child brides and sex-specific abortions are cultural particulars that I don’t think the entire world of FAAB people is qualified to comment on. Abortion and access to birth control for people who could become pregnant.

          tl;dr I think there’s much better language to use when talking about each of those issues than conflating them all under the heading of “Things People Who Were Female Assigned at Birth” Have to Worry About,” since not all people who were FAAB can relate to those.

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            I think people who have had hysterectomies are still different than those who weren’t born with one when talking about abortions and access to birth control for the purpose of birth control. These are issues the overwhelming majority of people assigned female at birth are going to have to face at least some point in their lifetimes. That’s why I think saying people with uteri/people with vaginas is too limiting.
            It’s not like I want to hang out with these people to eat pizza and go bowling. I want to discuss issues that affect us uniquely and substantially and personally.

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            And only occasionally. It’s not like every time I talk about abortion and birth control for the purposes of birth control all people that have never been affected by it nor will ever be affected by it need to leave the room.

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            I’m not totally down with the idea of how many things are exclusively “FAAB” oriented but, believe it or not, I also think it’s totally fair to say that someone who can have periods, get pregnant, possibly get reproductive cancers and require birth control/abortion services has a unique perspective (even if those issues also highly impact others) and deserves to have that first-person voice respected and put at the head of the line on those issues. It’s not up to anyone else to minimize your possible exposure to and unique needs with those health issues. There is a large area of intersectionality between trans and cis women’s interests be it gender-based discrimination, rape, many issues in women’s health, the patriarchy, media images, etc., but that doesn’t mean there aren’t unique issues for each group as well, and those areas and first-person experiences should be respected and honored even as each subgroup (hopefully) supports the other in their struggles.

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            I’m not talking about people who have had hysterectomies – I’m talking about some intersex individuals, who were FAAB but do not have uteri.

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            You didn’t mention that. You said people who don’t have a uterus. People who have hysterectomies would fall under that category, and yet, abortion and birth control for the purpose of birth control is still something they have a right to speak on versus someone who has never had to ever even think about worrying about those things. You also mentioned “people who have a vagina” earlier, but some trans women have vaginas, and again, abortion and birth control for the purpose of birth control doesn’t affect them.
            I went with FAAB spaces because that’s what I had read that both trans guys and trans women preferred. I realize that everyone does not feel the same, but I feel like since yes, it is an overwhelming majority, and I’m not talking about FAAB-only spaces being bathrooms, women’s colleges, feminist organizations (except maybe those that are abortion and birth control for the purpose of birth control specific), other related women’s things, I shouldn’t really be vilified here.
            I see it the same way I do being of mixed race. Sometimes, I just want to talk about things that affect mixed race people with people who understand it personally. No “English and Italian and my great-great-grandmother was Cherokee” people, no 100% Potawatomi people, but those that, like I did, have to deal with the day to day issues of being mixed. My grandmother, who is Cherokee, knows what it’s like to be Cherokee, but she cannot fully grasp what it’s like to be Cherokee, Mexican, and lily white.

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            I can spell things out more clearly for what I was trying to say, but first I’d like to clarify that I absolutely support the existence of spaces for people of color, mixed-race people, trans* people, whatever – independent of white, cis, whatever people because people with those identities face untoward discrimination and bigotry, and therefore need and deserve a space free of people with that privilege. The reason why I have an issue with FAAB vs. female trans* people is because in that case FAAB is already the privileged group relatively speaking.

            I’m really not trying to vilify you, and I’m not personally attacking you in any way. I’m just disagreeing.

            You’re right that people with hysterectomies would (probably) have still had to worry about getting pregnant at one point – so I should change that to note “people who have or did have uteri.” The issues you discuss as being specific to FAAB people though, are not ones that I see as all falling under that canopy. That was the point I was trying to make. That is why I specifically referred to people, such as some people who are intersex, having been FAAB but not having uteri. I’m not sure what issues specifically would relate to having vaginas that would be exclusive to all FAAB people (because again, some people who FAAB do not have what we commonly think of as specific genitalia/reproductive organs). And again, I think that child brides, sex-specific abortions, and genital cutting are culturally specific, not FAAB specific.

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            That’s why I used the mixed race analogy. Am I privileged over my grandmother because I’m mixed and she’s 100% First Nation? Yes. But are there things about being mixed specifically that SUCK and she can’t ever understand those things entirely? Yes.
            I have had a few too many conversations with trans female friends about abortion and birth control that made me feel like they viewed their opinion on the subject as as valid as mine. It was sort of entirely upsetting, because I ended up being talked over, when the issues we were talking about didn’t even affect them. One woman even said she wished she could experience a pregnancy scare because she felt that that was a privilege that cis women have, which I found to be a horrible thing to say, as someone who has watched so many friends and family members who have had pregnancy scares (thankfully, I haven’t had one yet. THANKFULLY). I get that I am privileged in that I can get pregnant if I want to, but at the same time, I also get the wonderful privilege of having to remember to be religious in my birth control taking, worried about how well the birth control works, worried about paying for birth control, worried about what would happen should I ever get pregnant because of the slut shaming involved, trying to decide what the hell I would do because there are so few resources for down and out mothers, etc. SO MANY of my friends and family have experienced that very thing so I know it would SUCK if I accidentally got preggo, so I have a VERY vested interest in the subjects of birth control for the purpose of birth control and abortion, and sometimes, I just want to have a space to speak on those subjects with people who UNDERSTAND in a way that only people who can know what it’s like can understand. And a lot of infertile FAAB people didn’t find out they were so until they were older, and even then, there’s always that chance. My mother had infertility problems, had all of her children via IVF, had her tubes tied just in case, and STILL had an unplanned, ectopic pregnancy. She had to get an abortion.
            Just, feelings. A frustrating conversation just the other week makes the feelings kind of raw.

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      Yeah, the claim FAAB spaces are important really creeps me out. I’m not interested in hanging out with a bunch of other people assigned the same sex as me FOR the reason that they were assigned that same sex. That’s bullshit, and goes into the essentializing of sex and gender identity as defined by genitalia.

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    Even though I’m conflicted about the nature of gender restricted colleges for myself, but glad to hear a positive admittance for another. I’ve actually never heard of this school before, either. Part of me, when I was younger, wish I had the opportunities that the younger generations are getting and will continue to gain. Acceptance of trans* women and girls in these schools and the girl scouts makes me really happy.

    As for white cis male atheist activists, jeebus…seriously, I’m an atheist, I enjoy a good listen to the Atheist Experience on youtube, and some of the take downs of absurd creationists make me glad someone is doing it. Because even though I get a little tired of the Hitchens/Hawkins wannabes, I have to say that objective science and rationality is under assault, and I don’t have the energy to take it on. I enjoy Skepchick, but honestly, preaching to the choir. The best was the white male tears over feminists turning atheism into something that scared cis white males, aka Thunderf00t, lol, what an implosion.

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      as an aside, I grew up in the rural South, so a lot the elite colleges were way beyond my dreams, but oddly enough, I had some damn good science teachers who taught science as it should be (not all my teachers mind you…our sex ed teacher was a wacko)

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    While I’m going to avoid engaging on the issue at the moment, I will say that, while Smith is far from perfect and has dropped the ball on many issues, the faculty, the administration, and the student body are three separate entities. A lot of what I’ve been seeing in the media is really ignoring a lot about what Smith is, the population here, and the range of opinions. I think it’s a little bit absurd that everyone from Feministing to Jezebel feels they can just weigh in on the issue and attempt to paint Smith as an intolerant and hostile space at best and at worst a finishing school (an outdated and incredibly sexist take on women’s colleges). Smith has flaws, but we have an incredible queer community here (the most thriving and normalized that I’ve ever seen on a college campus) and we are an incredibly progressive and open institution. Sure, there are problems, and they should be addressed, but I’m getting a little sick of my school (where we have queers living in every house and a charter amended to be respectful of pronoun preferences) being treated like the second cousin of BYU.

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      @E: No one here is equating BYU to your school. I appreciate the affection you have for your college and all it means to you and other queer students at the school. But, again, a queer community cannot be normalized while segments of that community aren’t even permitted to enter that community and as long as that’s tacitly tolerated, there is no normalization… it’s just that it doesn’t impact you.

      Personally, I’m getting tired of having to restate this point, there are a lot more fundamental issues for the trans community like employment, health care, legal recognition, anti-trans violence, mentoring trans youth, supporting parental rights, etc. and I get fatigued having to talk about getting into an expensive private school no matter how good that school is (and Smith isn’t the only school not admitting trans women). BUT, this very much mirrors the situation of trans women being historically excluded from straight/queer women’s spaces. And the excuses are the same: “don’t judge us for this one issue,” “we’re very supportive of gay people,” “lots of us are trans allies” “trans women don’t want to be here” “we’re just following the law” “we have members of the trans community here (AKA trans guys)” “respect our space” blah blah blah. You say you’re getting a little sick of your school being ragged on, well I’m getting sick of hearing how “progressive and accepting to LGBT people” your school is while THE ENTIRE Smith community is in some way connected to keeping out trans women. Again, if you’re not part of the solution you’re part of the problem. All schools are comprised of a symbiotic relationship between student body, trustees, faculty/support staff, administration, financial structure and alumni… and these are NOT separate (even when parts of them are in disagreement). If you want change and actually care about progressive values and queer friendliness then stop the defensiveness and create change.

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        “THE ENTIRE Smith community is in some way connected to keeping out trans women. Again, if you’re not part of the solution you’re part of the problem. All schools are comprised of a symbiotic relationship between student body, trustees, faculty/support staff, administration, financial structure and alumni… and these are NOT separate (even when parts of them are in disagreement). If you want change and actually care about progressive values and queer friendliness then stop the defensiveness and create change.”

        What is confusing to me is why you keep making statements such as this one when I have stated that students ARE fighting back in defense of trans*women being able to attend Smith. How do you know that E is not part of the student groups who are organizing in support of Calliope? How do you know that once their organized protest begins, she and others defending Smith’s community will not be a part of it? I just don’t understand why your comments continue to imply that Smithies are doing absolutely nothing in response to the administration’s discrimination against trans*women. This is simply not the case, and it’s not helping anyone to misconstrue the situation.

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    “continue to imply that Smithies are doing absolutely nothing in response to the administration’s discrimination against trans*women”

    And your interpretations of what I’m “implying” continues to be extremely defensive, IMO purposefully incorrect and completely ‘black/white’ about school/student stands on this issue. I would be glad if E is part of groups protesting this policy (although she didn’t mention it) but I found her statement about Smith’s ‘normalized’ queer community used to excuse systemic school discrimination against trans women to not point in that direction and problematic no matter what she’s into. I’m not making either her or you, for that matter, into enemies, but your repeated claims about how progressive and pro-queer Smith is even though it (and remember, you both CHOSE to go to a school and shell out considerable funds to an institution which doesn’t accept trans women) makes me feel as if you care a lot more about the negative publicity and vibe you’re getting from progressive people when you tell them you go to Smith than actually being an ally and I think that’s a shame.

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      “And your interpretations of what I’m “implying” continues to be extremely defensive, IMO purposefully incorrect and completely ‘black/white’ about school/student stands on this issue.”

      Yes, I have been defensive, but I have not been purposefully incorrect, I am telling you how your comments are coming off to me. If my interpretation is incorrect, I’m sorry, but it is certainly not incorrect on purpose. I also have not been “black/white” about school and student stands. I stated that certainly some students and alums are not in favor of trans*women at Smith, but as of right now the only organized action has been in favor of trans*women attending Smith. This is in contrast to the administration, who, while likely having a variety of opinions, have not made any moves toward changing their policies.

      “and remember, you both CHOSE to go to a school and shell out considerable funds to an institution which doesn’t accept trans women”

      If no one who didn’t like Smith’s policies in regard to trans*women attended the school, there would not be any students or alums interested in fighting back against these policies. Smith would likely continue to exclude trans*women without any backlash. And also, again, my problem with your comments is that you are painting a completely black and white picture of Smith. Smith is not either perfect or evil. As I stated, Smith did a lot of incredible things for me as a young queer person, and I find it much more valuable to be in that space and work to make it better than to completely disregard it and leave it unchanged. How would that approach help anyone?

      “…makes me feel as if you care a lot more about the negative publicity and vibe you’re getting from progressive people when you tell them you go to Smith than actually being an ally and I think that’s a shame.”

      First of all, I’m glad to see that Smith is getting a lot of negative publicity in regard to Calliope. In my opinion, it puts outside pressure on the institution to at least respond to the situation and to student action. What bothers me about your comments specifically (and I wouldn’t consider them “publicity”) is the false portrayal of Smith’s queer community. As for the “vibe you’re getting from progressive people,” I don’t know what you are talking about. To be honest, the reaction I usually get when I say I went to Smith is either jealous, impressed, or confused because the person hasn’t heard of it. I have zero problem with people criticizing Smith, and as I have stated, I am absolutely not in favor of them excluding trans*women. If I were a student, I would be involved in the organizing that is taking place, but as an alum the only thing I can do is send a letter and refuse to donate (which isn’t very effective in my case since I just graduated last year and don’t have any money to donate anyway).

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