Morehouse College opens its doors to transgender students

Transgender men will be allowed to enroll at Morehouse College for the first time beginning with the fall 2020 semester, the school announced Saturday. 

Trustees at the school, the nation's only all-male historically black college, made the change possible by revising the school's Gender Identity Policy after 15 months of dialogue with faculty, staff, students and alumni.

Terrance Dixon, vice president for enrollment management at Morehouse, said the school will create diversity and inclusion programs, training and facilities to support the new policy.

“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,” Dixon said in a press release. “The ratification of this policy affirms the college’s commitment to develop men with disciplined minds who will lead lives of leadership and service.”

James L. Hicks, an out 1984 Morehouse graduate, applauded the school for opening its doors to trans men.

“I am thrilled that my alma mater, Morehouse College, will begin accepting transgender students,” Hicks said. “This is a milestone for an HBCU [historically black college and university] and I am proud to be an alumni.”

All students need to self-identify as men while enrolled at Morehouse, according to the school’s new Gender Identity Admissions & Matriculation Policy

Students who transition from men to women will no longer be allowed at the school, according to the policy. Students can appeal to a three-person committee appointed by Morehouse President David Thomas. If the committee disagrees with the student, they appeal to Thomas.

Transgender women will not be considered for admission to Morehouse, according to the policy.

The school asked alumni about admitting transgender students in a survey in July 2018

Spelman College, an HBCU for women in Atlanta, began admitting transgender students in 2018. Keo Chaad O’Neal became what is believed to be the first openly transgender man to graduate from Spelman that year.

UPDATE | Georgia Equality called the action by Morehouse "a great first step" but cautioned that the school must work shift its culture to ensure a safe environment for trans students.

“This is a great first step for Morehouse that should be celebrated, especially as trans rights are federally under attack,” Eric Paulk, Georgia Equality deputy director and a Morehouse alumnus, said in a prepared statement. "However, it’s important to be mindful of the work that has to happen between now and the implementation of the new policy to ensure an atmosphere of equity and safety for trans students and LGBTQ+ students on campus. This means ensuring that these voices lead and are centered in every step of the process.”

Georgia Equality said Morehouse joins several other historically black colleges and universities in adopting trans-inclusive policies, including Tuskegee University, Howard University, Florida A&M University, Southern University, North Carolina Central University and Morgan State University.

“Ultimately, if there’s not a focus on faculty and staff training, a shift in student culture that supports LGBTQ+ students, and culturally competent student services, the new Morehouse policy will be nothing more than empty symbolism. Georgia Equality is committed to being a resource for Morehouse and other Georgia institutions as they navigate this space," Paulk said.

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