A Women’s College and an Inclusive Community

From the President

From the President,

From the President

At Wellesley, our mission as a women’s college is more important than ever. Women’s rights are being curtailed in the United States and around the globe, and women remain generally underpaid and underrepresented in positions of power. In a world where too few institutions consider women’s perspectives, Wellesley College is a powerful countervailing force. We educate and prepare young women to lead, and we use our influence to advocate for women everywhere.

At the same time, the world’s understanding of what it means to be a woman—and of the complexities of gender in general—has expanded greatly in recent years. And just as the political culture has moved to restrict women’s rights, state legislatures across this country are also trying to limit the rights of transgender people.

Wellesley has always been a refuge for women who don’t conform to society’s expectations, a place where they can discover their own voices and power, and we want to remain that way.

In 2015, Wellesley changed its policies to make anyone who identifies and lives as a woman—including trans and nonbinary people—eligible for admission. We also recognized that the gender identity of some of our students could evolve during their time at Wellesley, and they might no longer identify as women.

This spring, our students passed a nonbinding College Government referendum that called on Wellesley to change our gender policy to consider for admission trans men and nonbinary people who don’t identify as women. The referendum also called on Wellesley to move away from the use of gendered language in official communications.

I believe that if we were to make these changes, Wellesley would no longer be a women’s college.

Students supporting this measure have told me their main motivation is to ensure that their peers who have ceased to identify as women feel fully seen, appreciated, and protected by Wellesley—and I am deeply sympathetic to that. However, I believe we can do both: remain true to our mission as a women’s college, while becoming a more inclusive community that embraces people with diverse gender identities.

So, we are taking new steps to acknowledge and respect the individual identities within our community. The gender policy on our website used to suggest that students who transition to male while at Wellesley might find that a women’s college was no longer right for them. We have removed that language. If you are a Wellesley student, you belong at Wellesley.

We have made it clear that everyone deserves the respect and dignity that come from being called by one’s chosen name and pronouns, so we have added that information to our records system for students, faculty, and staff.

“This will be a journey, and I hope it is one we can take as a community, learning from and inspiring each other. Our diversity is an enormous source of strength—as is our identity as a women’s college.”

We’ve made sure that our counselors at the Stone Center are trained in gender affirming therapy. And we are about to appoint a new director for the Office of LGBTQ+ Programs and Services.

While we will continue to refer to Wellesley as a women’s college and use the word “women” to refer to its students and alumnae, we also will seek every opportunity to recognize and honor the trans and non-binary members of our community.

This will be a journey, and I hope it is one we can take as a community, learning from and inspiring each other. Our diversity is an enormous source of strength—as is our identity as a women’s college.

At Wellesley, we encourage all of our students to become their most authentic selves. And we embrace our founding mission: We represent women in a world where they are too often underrepresented. By educating women—and all our students—to make a difference, we make that world a better place for everyone.