America's only black all-male college, Morehouse College, will begin admitting transgender students in 2020

Morehouse College has enacted a change in policy which will see it allowing transgender males to enroll for the first time in its history

                            America's only black all-male college, Morehouse College, will begin admitting transgender students in 2020
Members of the Morehouse College (Source : Getty Images)

Morehouse College, Atlanta, which describes itself as "the only private historically black liberal arts college for men in the United States" and had only allowed for the enrollment of men, has announced that it will begin admitting transgender students who identify as men beginning in 2020.

According to a news release issued by the college, a new policy called the 'Gender Identity Admissions and Matriculation Policy', will apply to all students who enroll after the fall 2020 semester. "Morehouse will consider for undergraduate admission those applicants who live and self-identify as men, regardless of the sex assigned to them at birth," the release read.

CNN reported that the policy was developed after 15 months of community engagement with faculty, staff, students, and alumni. "Morehouse College has been at the forefront of human rights issues for 152 years," Morehouse President David A. Thomas was quoted saying. "Today's vote to reaffirm our dedication to educating and developing men, including trans men, is an important step into one of the new frontiers of social justice — gender identity."

Speaking about the change, Terrance Dixon, Morehouse vice president and enrollment management, told CNN, "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."

However, the release made it clear that the college would still not consider for admission women or those who were male at birth who now identify as women, adding that "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."

It said students who are admitted are "expected to continue to self-identify as men throughout their matriculation at Morehouse" and that if a student transitions from a man to a woman, that student will "no longer be eligible to matriculate at Morehouse." Morehouse spokeswoman Aileen Dodd similarly said students who identified as trans women — i.e., those who transitioned from male to female — before 2020 are eligible to graduate from Morehouse, but are not permitted to graduate from the school after 2020.

However, the release did say that exemptions from this rule may be granted by a three-person committee appointed by the President after a written appeal is submitted by the student, failing which one final appeal can be made with the President.

Tatiana Rafael, one such student who identifies as a transgender woman who began transitioning six months after she began attending Morehouse in 2017, told CNN that the college was "missing a chance to be progressive and inclusive" and she doesn't feel welcome at the college. "I felt pretty marginalized and erased," she said. "I was never included in the image of the school. I was kind of just there by default."