One of the U.S.A.’s most prominent men’s only colleges is now accepting transgender men, but are those at the institution actually ready for change?
Morehouse is one of the U.S.A.’s many HBCUs or historic black colleges/universities. These institutions were created in times when it was illegal and/or taboo to teach black people. Even after laws banning the education of black people were revoked, many established colleges refused to accept black students until decades later. Because of that, schools created by, run by, and attended by black people were set up all over the country. Though, many stand in the American South.
Ironically, Morehouse has previously been ridiculed for having a similar policy against LGBTQ people. The school previously banned the inclusion of transgender people in its student body. The institution has a history of accepting only men into its halls including iconic names like Martin Luther King Jr., Spike Lee, Samuel L. Jackson, and more. But again, the school refused to consider transmen for admission.
As we shared last year, however, Morehouse College announced plans for this to change. The school’s now accepting transgender men as students for its Fall 2020 semester.
“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, the school’s enrollment vice president, said in the statement.
In this policy change, Morehouse is catching up to sister school Spelman College, which updated its enrollment policy in 2017. The school made the call to allow the admission of trans people, and one of its students then came out as a transman. That student later graduated in 2018.
However, Spelman will continue to be a step ahead of Morehouse as the latter college is only taking a half-step towards progress. While the school will now admit transmen, the school will continue to ban transwomen. Specifically, the policy stipulates that “individuals who identify as women regardless of the sex assigned to them at birth” are not included in the policy change. The policy even goes so far as to say, “Once admitted, the student is expected to continue to self-identify as a man throughout his matriculation at Morehouse.”
This stipulation then brings to question an underlying issue here. Is Morehouse actually ready to change? As HBCUBuzz points out, the college plans to continue its male-focused formatting. Meaning, the school will ‘continue to use masculine pronouns,’ the ‘language of brotherhood,’ and male-focused education systems. On one hand, this creates an important space of education and enrichment for Black male youth in a society set against them. On the other hand, leaves certain LGBTQ people out in the cold.
Morehouse Students React to the new Transgender Admissions Policy. (Full video available on YouTube and IGTV @themaroontiger)
— The Maroon Tiger (@themaroontiger) April 19, 2019
But what do students think? Will they and the institution accept and properly handle new transgender students?
“I think Morehouse should stay strictly all-male. We need to help enhance the masculinity on campus.” stated one student to school news source the Maroon Tiger. (Fun fact worth mentioning: The Tiger used a background song of Frank Ocean’s “Chanel,” in which he sings about being bisexual and dating a man).
“I feel like everybody here is very inclusive to people who are already here. Who are not conforming to the same set of rules and traits that society has set for them,” reasoned another student. He then acknowledged the fact that the school as an institution still has some room to grow. “But as for Morehouse as an institution, I feel like some things have to be worked on already before new changes can be truly upheld as they should be.”
It seems that’s the best stance to take on this policy change in the midst of coming to fruition. While it’s a positive sign of good things to come, it will most likely come with hurdles and bumps in the next few years. In addition, Morehouse has to first add transgender students to its student body before the institution can see how it handles the change.
As one other Morehouse student noted, being gay is still a difficult experience for students on campus, so being trans will be even harder. That said, at least Morehouse is trying.
“With Morehouse accepting transmen, I feel like that’s a greater step for the future,” he hoped.
We also hope that he’s correct.