Smith College, the largest of the all-female Seven Sisters schools, is changing its policy to accept transgender women.
The new policy, which takes effect for those applying in the fall of 2015, followed a year of study. The women’s college previously asked undergraduates to have consistently identified as female since birth.
According to a statement on the Smith website, the new policy “does not affect students who transition during their time at Smith. Once admitted, every student has the full support of the college, and this includes trans men. And any student who completes the college’s graduation requirements will be awarded a Smith degree.”
Smith President Kathleen McCartney and board Chairwoman Elizabeth Mugar Eveillard said in announcing the change on Saturday that since Smith’s founding, “concepts of female identity have evolved.” The college was chartered in 1871 and opened in 1875.
Smith will not admit students who were born female but identify as male.
Other women’s colleges, including Mount Holyoke and Wellesley, have also changed their policies to admit transgender women.
The advocacy group GLAAD said it worked with Smith alumnae for the change. GLAAD President and CEO Kate Ellis said Smith joins a growing number of colleges that “respect and afford equal opportunity to all women.”
Smith came under fire in 2013 for telling a female transgender high school student she could not apply because she was not recognized as a female in Connecticut, where she lived, according to The Advocate.
Al Jazeera with The Associated Press