ROANOKE COUNTY, Va. – Students who would have been forced out of Hollins University for their gender identity can now receive a degree from the all women's school.
A revised transgender policy went into effect Saturday. Now, students whose gender identities change during their time at the school can still graduate, including women who transition to identify as a man and nonbinary students -- whose gender identify is neither solely male or female. The university will also consider admitting trans women (men who transition to a woman).
Still, nonbinary students and trans men (women who transition to a man) are not eligible for admission.
In a statement to 10 News, Hollins University officials said:
"Hollins will consider for admission those applicants who consistently live and identify as women, regardless of the gender assigned to them at birth. Enrolled students who transition during their time at Hollins may graduate.
The statement also said that the school's Transgender Policy Task Force, formed in 2018, felt strongly that:
"Hollins should eliminate the requirement that currently enrolled students must transfer if their gender identity changes after they enroll. Requiring a student to transfer is inconsistent with Hollins' focus on compassionately supporting our students and their personal development."
Megan Nanney, an instructor and a current PhD candidate at Virginia Tech's Departments of Sociology and Women's and Gender Studies, is researching transgender admission policies at women's colleges. Nanney is not surprised the school made the change.
"Hollins really wanted to reflect and see how their current policy or practices really fit into where women's colleges were going in today's society," Nanney told 10 News in a phone interview.
Nanney said this new policy could impact students on campus who feared coming out and revealing their gender identity.
"That creates a poor mental and physical state of being and can actually impact their academics and social life on campus," Nanney said.
Moving forward, Nanney wonders what resources will be available to all students, from counseling to housing.
"How is Hollins ready to support, not only trans women who they're going to admit, because they have been admitting trans women," Nanney said, "but specifically trans men and nonbinary students that are now not forced to leave?"