Scripps College Admission Policy FAQ

The mission of Scripps College is to educate women to develop their intellects and talents through active participation in a community of scholars so that as graduates they may contribute to society through public and private lives of leadership, service, integrity, and creativity.

The Scripps College administration reaffirms this mission, and seeks to provide additional context in response to questions raised by our community with respect to the admission policy below.

How does Scripps currently determine eligibility for application to the College?

Scripps accepts all applications who indicate their legal sex as female submitted through the Common Application.  The Common Application addresses the question of sex as follows:

Federal guidelines mandate that we collect data on the legal sex of all applicants.  Please report the sex currently listed on your birth certificate. If you wish to provide more details regarding your sex or gender identity, you are welcome to do so in the Additional Information section.

What does the College use to determine whether or not to offer admission?

The College uses a holistic approach to identifying applicants who they believe will contribute to Scripps’ unique educational environment. The Admission team uses recommendations, GPA, test scores, activities, applicant responses to supplemental questions, and other metrics to evaluate candidates and assess their interest in Scripps College.

Has the College matriculated trans individuals in the past?

We have matriculated students who are questioning their gender. We recognize that the process of identifying trans is not the same for every individual, and we support all students as they engage in the process of self-discovery.

Would the mission of Scripps College change as a result of the new admission policy?

No. Women’s colleges are committed to challenging unequal gender dynamics within mainstream society, supporting the intellectual and personal growth of their students, and fostering critical analyses of gender. Admitting trans students is harmonious with these commitments and is consistent with the underlying mission of women’s colleges to support, nurture, and value the voices of those who have been marginalized by gender.

What is the definition of ‘women’?

Influenced by academic, medical, and legal research, society’s understanding of gender as a social construct rather than the result of sex characteristics alone has evolved over time. Gender identity is defined as the manner in which an individual sees her/himself in that social construct, and many are familiar with the definitions of genderqueer and gender fluidity.

The earliest conversations about social constructivism can be found in scholarship in the 1980’s, although the richness of this work was not explored deeply until the past few decades.  At the same time, a fuller understanding of gender dysphoria by the medical community was being developed, and the legal landscape has adjusted to this understanding, such that equal access for the transgender community is now increasingly addressed in federal and state law.

How do trans people relate to Scripps’ mission to address gender inequality?

Women’s colleges like Scripps have historically functioned as models for what the world could look like if voices of gender minorities — typically women — were supported, nurtured, and valued in the same way as their cisgender (non-transgender) male counterparts. While women’s colleges have historically focused their efforts solely around cisgender women, the broader purpose of the women’s college has always been to provide a safe haven to build the minds of the gender marginalized in our culture. Adopting the proposed policy therefore does not alter Scripps’ fundamental character as a women’s college; rather, it bolsters it, acknowledging evolving conceptions of gender by recognizing transgender women, transgender men, gender non-conforming individuals, and cisgender women as gender minorities within dominant culture.

Scripps College is committed to understanding and combatting systemic gender inequality. Transgender people are profoundly marginalized under our dominant gender system. Suggesting that trans people’s masculine or feminine gender expression perpetuates the dominant gender system inaccurately characterizes trans experiences and falsely simplifies the systemic operation of gendered inequalities. On campus, the College engages in nuanced dialogue about how gender and power operate; trans people’s experiences help us better understand and combat gender marginalization.

How is it consistent to allow the admission of transwomen (indicating male as legal sex) and transmen (indicating female as legal sex) based on “self-identification as women”?

Some students may come to Scripps identified as female by sex who have questions about their gender identity, and many members of our community recognize that college is a space for students to fully explore their identity. Scripps has a history of supporting transgender male students who transition on campus, and we believe that this support is in line with Scripps’ commitment to encourage all students to grow into the fullest versions of themselves. Since Scripps has supported trans sophomores, juniors, and seniors, the admission of trans first-years will not change campus culture or necessitate widespread reinvention of student life policies. Furthermore, students want Scripps to welcome and affirm trans students.

It is consistent with our current practice to continue accepting applications from all individuals whose legal sex is female as presented on their current birth certificate.  We recognize that transgender men do not have the same history and lived experience as cisgender men, and that formally admitting transgender men supports the educational goal of building strong minds among gender minorities. Transmen who have male as their legal sex would not be eligible for admission to the College.

The policy recommendation is informed by Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. While Title IX does not cover admission policies for private undergraduate institutions, it does extend to policies related to matriculating students.

All of the women’s colleges that have announced admission policy changes to date continue to extend eligibility to all applicants whose legal sex is female, irrespective of their gender identity.

Why would a transgender man want to come to a women’s college?

Some transmen may wish to attend a women’s college because it will be a supportive and respectful environment for them to express their gender identity and/or because they want to participate in a space that thinks critically about gender in our society. Transgender people cannot assume that their gender will be respected everywhere they go, so a trans male high school student is likely to make a college decision based, in part, on predictions of safety and support. This student may find himself choosing between attending a school as male and worrying about negative consequences if his trans status becomes known, or attending a school where he is known to be trans, but where his maleness may not be respected. Women’s colleges may offer trans students a space where they are less vulnerable to transphobia and more respected in their gender identity.

Does being a women’s college imply that Scripps is a women-only space?

The Scripps campus has never been a women-only space. Male faculty and staff have always been engaged in the College. Furthermore, men from the other five undergraduate colleges have attended Scripps classes, and our students have likewise attended classes at the other 5Cs. Clubs and organizations across the colleges that are co-educational have had Scripps participants.

Will the presence of trans students prevent Scripps students from bonding around shared gender experiences?

Scripps College remains a women’s college.  As our students express, Scripps is a women’s college where all of the students do not identify as women. Scripps students have a wide range of gender experiences because of the way gender intersects with race, class, ability, and sexuality.  Trans students do not introduce difference into an otherwise homogeneous student body.

Because our student body recognizes that not everyone who attends the College identifies as a woman, they are appropriately concerned about ensuring that those individuals feel welcome in the community and that the College actively work against institutionalized discrimination in all forms. It is in that spirit that Core, particularly the reading of Dean Spade’s Normal Life, our feminist, gender and sexuality studies curriculum, and activities of SCORE CLORGS have led our students to think about gender justice in broader terms than the oppression of women. They are concerned about the oppression of all individuals who are not privileged.  For them, the Scripps College educational experience should be open to all, with the exception of cisgender males. The SAS petition expresses a position that Mount Holyoke recently adopted.

In 2010 76% of the student body voted to change SAS bylaws to reflect gender-inclusive language.  We honor our current students by using that practice in our communications to the student body. Self-identified pronoun preference is a means of demonstrating transinclusion, but also one of honoring the majority of the student population, which remains cisgender female.

How will we support transgender students as they enter the College?

Scripps will continue to support and provide counsel to those students who come from marginalized communities.  SCORE, QRC, and Student Health Services provide various options, depending on a student’s unique needs.

From a residential life standpoint, matching first year roommates can be addressed at Scripps in the same manner it is addressed at other institutions. The presence of a designated residential space for students who prefer gender-neutral housing will be created. We do not believe the mission of the College is predicated on the notion of the College as a completely women’s-only space. After the first year, the majority of Scripps students self select roommates through the housing process.

At Scripps, students may identify their pronoun preference as well as name preference so that faculty and staff refer to them correctly in their courses and in campus life activities.

Why did the Board not adopt a policy excluding transmen and allowing the College to verify medical and legal information regarding gender identity?

  • The Scripps College Admissions Policy recommended by Senior Staff and approved by the Board was informed by Federal and California law and was intended to reaffirm the historical practices of Scripps College with respect to applicants’ self-identification during the admissions process.
  • Scripps College uses the Common Application, which asks an applicant to state the gender on their current Birth Certificate (as opposed to Birth Certificate issued at birth). If a person has taken steps legally to change from female to male gender by changing their Birth Certificate, the person would state male on the Common Application.  Such person would not be eligible for admission to Scripps unless the person included additional discussion describing that the person identifies as a woman.
  • Scripps College has never asked applicants (or any students) to submit medical documentation to verify sex or gender identity.  Adopting this practice would be a significant departure from Scripps College’s historical practices and its culture that respects privacy.

**This document incorporates content from multiple sources and reflects information obtained through research, educational materials, and conversations. Permission has been granted to include all information contained herein.