Women only Cambridge college to allow trans students who 'identify as female' for first time
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A female-only Cambridge University college has made the decision to change its policy to allow any students who identify as female to apply after motion on transgenders was passed by the College Council.
Previously, Murray Edwards college required all its applicants to be ‘legally defined as female’ but has now updated its entry criteria to include anyone ‘who at the point of application identifies as a woman’.
On its website, the college whose alumni include Sue Perkins and Claudia Winkleman wrote:
‘With so much gender inequality still in the world, there is a role for a college able to focus on outstanding young women, their learning and skills for life’.
In a statement issued by the college, they said:
"In relation to current students, we consider each case on an individual basis, focusing on what is in the best interests of that individual, in full discussion with that student.
"Should the student decide that they would prefer to be in a mixed college if transitioning to male or if rejecting a binary gender category, the College would be fully supportive of a transfer."
In an interview with The Daily Telegraph former lecturer Germaine Greer called the decision ‘ridiculous’.
"It’s a silly situation, and I’m sure that Murray Edwards will have their own reasons.
"But it’s a difficult relationship, having a transgender person in an all-female environment.
"If they really don’t believe that gender is binary, then they really shouldn’t be a single-sex college. Their position is ridiculous. The only sane thing for them to do is to cease discriminating on the basis of assigned gender of any kind."
Author of ‘Women vs Feminism’, Dr Joanna Williams stated that the decision will mark the ‘end of women-only spaces.'
"This college was set up several decades ago when things were very different for female students. If some women want to have a women-only space, if they choose to be there, they should have every right to do that.
"To then learn that you’re sharing your dormitory, your bathroom with someone who is biologically male is an infringement on your right to choose the right the educational environment you chose."
The college has defended its decision, stating that this change does not challenge the institution’s single-sex status but it recognises that ‘how we define women is changing’.
Senior tutor at Murray Edwards, Juliet Foster said, "our position is very clear, we want to be open to all outstanding young women, and we felt that society is changing and there is greater understanding of the complexities surrounding gender.
"We felt that was therefore in line with our values to accept all women, including transgender people who identify as female."
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