Morehouse College, an all-male, historically black school in Atlanta, said it would open its enrollment to transgender men, a shift that comes as protections for those in the transgender community are under fire.
The school’s gender identity policy, announced Saturday, will continue to ban from enrollment anyone who identifies as a woman.
College President David Thomas said the decision was driven by a greater awareness of gender identity and the college’s need to have a clear policy. “We found that when our admission representatives were going out, oftentimes people would ask them, ‘Does Morehouse admit transgender people?’ ” he said Sunday.
The new policy states that “once admitted, students are expected to continue to self-identify as men throughout their matriculation.”
Morehouse is not the first all-male institution in the U.S. to change its policy to allow transgender men. In 2016, St. John’s University in Collegeville, Minn., changed its policy to consider “applicants who consistently live and identify as men, regardless of the gender assigned to them at birth.”
The new policy at Morehouse, which has 2,200 students, comes as the transgender community faces a breakdown of protections under federal civil rights law. The Obama administration helped to broaden these protections through a series of decisions that loosened the legal concept of gender in federal programs.
The Trump administration, however, is trying to define gender as a biological, immutable condition determined by genitalia at birth. This definition would affect 1.4 million Americans who identify as a gender other than the one they had at birth.
Morehouse announced its new policy a day after the U.S. military implemented its policy for transgender troops, which allows transgender people to enlist but only if they present themselves as the gender they were assigned at birth. They are also not allowed to transition while in the military.
Under the policy, a student who transitions from male to female would no longer be eligible to stay at Morehouse. It was unclear how many students might be in transition.
Thomas, president of the college, said he was “not aware as to whether currently we have a trans man on campus.”
“The policy was not driven by trans individuals who are on the campus,” Thomas said. “Our students were unclear if we were welcoming or open to transgender men applying. It wasn’t stirred by transgender men on campus.”
Morehouse was founded in 1867 as an all-male institution.