The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Thursday May 19th

Column: Morehouse College's new gender identity policy has its flaws

Morehouse College, an all-male, historically black college, recently announced that they’ve updated their gender identity policy to allow for the admission of transgender students.

“Since its founding in 1867, Morehouse College’s mission has been to develop men with disciplined minds who will lead lives of leadership and service.” With notable alumni such as Martin Luther King Jr. and Spike Lee, it’s clear that Morehouse has adhered to this mission and prepares not just Black men but Black leaders, academics and public servants. 

With that in mind, it is encouraging to hear that, “in recognition of our changing world and evolving understanding of gender identity, Morehouse will now consider for admission applicants who live and self-identify as men, regardless of the sex assigned to them at birth.” 

This progressive policy change is particularly notable considering the ways in which the Trump administration is taking steps to restrict the rights and recognition of transgender individuals. According to an article by the New York Times, “The Trump administration is considering narrowly defining gender as a biological, immutable condition determined by genitalia at birth...”

In a seemingly intentional response to the anti-trans policies and attitudes being propagated by the Trump administration, Morehouse announced this new policy the day after the United States military implemented its restrictive policy for transgender troops.

The only slight wrinkle in the policy is that it might actually push a few students out of Morehouse with this new definition. “If, during a student’s time at Morehouse, a student transitions from a man to a woman, that student will no longer be eligible to matriculate at Morehouse.” 

Realizing that this means some students will have to find a new school, the college has committed to providing resources for students who no longer live and self-identify as men. While this support is important, it complicates Morehouse’s supposed commitment to the development of their students. 

The college’s choice to adhere so strictly to their identity as an all-male institution sends the message to students that they will support them in their development as a leader, academic and public servant unless their development involves a change in gender expression.

College is a crucial time for the evolution of one’s identity whether that evolution involves changes to one’s gender identity, sexuality or what have you. Therefore, it is important that the institutions committed to helping students reach their full potential continue to do so regardless of these identity-affirming changes. 

That said, I am not completely in agreement with Morehouse’s decision to prohibit the matriculation of students who feel more authentic presenting as female after they’ve enrolled. Perhaps this is rooted in my skepticism of the merit and rationale behind gendered educational institutions in general as someone who went to an all-male high school. 

At the end of the day, the benefits of this new policy outweigh the costs. While this policy is not perfect, Morehouse’s decision to accept trans men is an encouraging one that other all-male institutions should take note of in their efforts to build more inclusive institutions. 

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