Massachusetts women's college strives to be 'gender diverse' with new 'chosen name' policy

This policy comes in pursuit of making the college more “gender diverse.”

Mount Holyoke College has established a policy that allows any member of the college community to change their name for college use.

Mount Holyoke College, an all-women institution, has just added another policy to affirm gender diversity on campus.

In a letter to the college community on August 19, the Vice President for Equity and Inclusion and Chief Diversity Officer Kijua Sanders-McMurtry announced that a Chosen Name Policy had been established.

“Mount Holyoke College is a women’s college that is gender diverse,” stated the new policy. “We seek to support individuals across the gender-diversity spectrum by providing options to indicate a chosen name to be used on campus. We affirm every individual’s right to be represented by the name they choose for themselves.”

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This policy would allow students, faculty and staff to indicate a name other than their legal name for official College use through the college’s online system my.mountholyoke.

“This important initiative is being piloted this semester as we continue the work of developing policies and practices that are supportive of trans and gender non-conforming (TGNC) members of our campus community,” wrote Sanders-McMurtry.

“We are a women’s college that is gender diverse and our collective effort to champion diversity, equity and inclusion are ongoing,” added Sanders-McMurty. “We welcome the opportunity to be in dialogue with so many members of the community as we strive to create a more just community in which every member is valued and thrived.”

The prestigious western Massachusetts college for the past six years has been striving to make the campus community more gender diverse. 

In 2014, the former MHC President Lynn Pasquerella announced that the oldest women’s college in America would begin admitting students who were either female or who identified as one as long as they were qualified.

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On the admissions page, Mount Holyoke is described as “a women’s college that is gender diverse.” Female, transgender, and nonbinary students can apply, and people who are born biologically male, but now identify as a woman can also apply, according to a PBS article.

For those who wish to transition while at MHC, there are plenty of resources to help transition. Students can schedule an appointment with one of the on-campus health center clinicians to talk about hormone therapy, and clinicians can write letters of reference to obtain hormones or refer students to surgical procedures, which requires letters of support or recommendation by a health provider.

The college also has resources to legally change a students’ name. After meeting with a health center clinician, students can meet with the medical director of College Health Services who then can write letters of support, which are needed in order to change gender markers on passports and driver’s licenses.

For those who don’t transition, students, faculty, and staff are encouraged to state their pronouns when they introduce themselves to make a more inclusive environment.

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“Pronouns are neither preferred nor optional,” states the new Chosen Name Policy. “We strive to ensure that every member of our campus community is addressed in a way that acknowledges and respects the fullness of their gender identity.”

“We encourage all students, faculty, and staff to communicate their pronouns to others, through spoken communication when meeting or greeting someone in person or virtually, or in writing, such as email signatures, business cards, resumes or nametags.”

Mount Holyoke College did not respond to a request for comment from Campus Reform.

Follow the author of this article: Lela Gallery