An all-female college at Cambridge University ceased being an all-female college the moment they caved to growing political pressure last week by allowing transgenders (males presenting themselves as females) to attend school there.
According to The New York Times, the college council announced on Monday that transgenders may now start submitting applications to Murray Edwards College for possible enrollment next October.
College president Barbara Stocking said in a statement: “We are a college that is open to all outstanding young women, and so it is absolutely right, both legally and within our set of values, for anyone who identifies as female to be able to apply to study with us.”
The new standard states that any student who “identifies as female and, where they have been identified as male at birth, has taken steps to live in the female gender" may now apply to attend.
Admistrator Juliet Foster said that applications will be considered on a case-by-case basis to accommodate the societal debate over the nature of femininity.
“This doesn’t affect our single-sex status: We are a college that exists to prioritize women’s education and learning,” said Dr. Foster, a professor of psychology. “But legally, societally and generationally, there has been a change in the understanding of gender and what makes one female.
Murray Edwards College is just one of 31 colleges at Cambridge University where world-renowned actress Tilda Swinton is an alumni. The new policy will not affect the Cambridge's two other female-only colleges, Newnham College and Lucy Cavendish College.
Some feminists, like Germaine Greer, a former lecturer at Newnham College, have criticized the college for such a move, arguing that trans women are not real women.
“Their position is ridiculous,” Greer told The Telegraph. “The only sane thing for them to do is to cease discriminating on the basis of assigned gender of any kind.”
Dr. Foster said the new policy at Murray Edwards College said that the decision simply enabled transgender students to apply under their preferred gender.
“There are students who are transgender at the University of Cambridge already, and there have been for many, many years,” she said. “The only change we’re talking about is related to students at the application stage.”