Dialogue re: “Women’s Colleges Accepting Self-Identified Females”

Letter to the Editor RE: “Women’s Colleges Accepting Self-Identified Females”

We are writing in response to the article “Women’s Colleges Accepting Self-Identified Females” by Sophie Fahey. It’s frustrating to read such an irresponsible discussion of a critical issue in the Scripps community. 

This article included both oppressive language and factual inaccuracies, and while we appreciate the attempt to addressing the push for trans inclusive admissions policies at women’s colleges, all this article provides is a serious miseducation for the Scripps community at a time when Scripps students most need clear information and inclusive language. This miseducation is detrimental to the conversation around trans inclusion at Scripps. 

The article claims that Mount Holyoke and Mills have similar policies when in fact their policies are vastly different and the erasure of these differences limits the discussion of the policy that Scripps and other Women’s colleges can create. The policy released by Mount Holyoke, unlike the one Mills has adopted, accepts applications from trans men and nonbinary individuals, excluding only cisgender men from applying to Mount Holyoke. This difference in policy is critical for Scripps to explore and understand as we question what a trans inclusive policy at Scripps should look like, particularly in light of the fact that we have no official policy, which the article incorrectly claims exists.

Additionally, the article includes exclusive and oppressive language, such as referring to trans women as "Biologically-born men who identify as female or transgender” and countless other misuses of gender and sex, failing to demonstrate respect for how people describe their own genders. The AP style guide, which is widely accepted, is clear that transgender people should be referred to by their gender, not the gender that was assigned to them at birth. Calling a trans woman a “biological man” is unclear, inaccurate, and violent. Scripps students need a better and more nuanced understanding of inclusive language and gender, and we encourage people to explore resources (such as those listed below) or attend a teach in (to be announced soon).

Finally, the article fails to include any comments or opinions from students—all quotes are from the administration. At both Mills and Mount Holyoke the policy changes were a result of student advocacy and pressure; similarly, there are many Scripps students who are shaping the discussion, and have been critically reflecting on Scripps policy and pushing for trans inclusion. Their voices, and the voices of passionate alums, are at the forefront of urging Scripps to adopt a clear trans inclusive policy, and they deserve to be highlighted.

We urge the Scripps Voice to publish this letter online and to issue an apology and clarification to the Scripps community both via email and The Scripps Voice website. It is imperative for The Scripps Voice to respond swiftly; as a Scripps publication it has the power to either normalize oppressive language and ideology or to challenge it. We are excited to continue the conversation about trans inclusive admissions at Scripps College and we want to do so in way that gives this topic the nuanced reflection and discussion it deserves. 

Signed, 

Claire Hirschberg 

Tara Partow 

Eli Erlick

Mia Shackelford 

Danie Diamond

Jasmine Russell

Laura Kent

Eden Amital

Felicia Agrelius 

Keanan Gottlieb 

A few resources:

www.srlp.org/resources/trans-101/

www.transstudent.org/definitions

www.glaad.org/reference/transgender


Letter from the Editors:

Dear Claire, Tara, Eli, Mia, Danie, Jasmine, Laura, Eden, Felicia, and
Keanan:

First of all, thank you for reaching out with your concerns. We
recognize that composing such a response requires much time and thought,
and it is always a good thing to be made aware of where improvements
must be made. We agree that your points are important and should be
heard by the Scripps community; we assure you that they will be.

Going forward, we as Editors-in-Chief will ensure that all articles are
written with more sensitivity to word choice and fact. We’ll ensure that
our writers are aware of the resources at their disposal that will
prevent such inaccuracies to occur- for example, those who are writing
about a topic whose appropriate vocabulary they may be unaware of will
be encouraged to reach out to those who are more learned in that area.
In fact, we are open to consulting with a member of your group when
writing on something about this in the future.

Further, as you may already know, TSV publishes articles covering all
BeHeard Forums; next issue will therefore include coverage of the
discussion surrounding Scripps’ policy on transgender admission. If any
of you, as members of the Scripps student body who are clearly very
well-educated on the topic, would be interested in covering that piece,
you are more than welcome to do so. We also both welcome and encourage
guest articles, and are more than happy to discuss this topic with you
as we move forward. Again, this is because we really do value accurate
journalism and care about the issue under discussion.

Again, thank you for reaching out, and we do deeply apologize for the
flaws that we published. We plan to move forward with the steps outlined
above, and hope that this helps to undo any damage that this piece may
have inadvertently caused.

Sincerely,
Lucy Altman-Newell (’17) and Elena Pinsker (’17), Editors-in-Chief