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Opinion: Gender Inclusivity at Meredith

A bird's eye view of Johnson Hall and the fountain in summer
Photo courtesy of Meredith College

Since 1891, Meredith College has been considered a historically all-women's institution, which has caused our school to be centered around this gender binary. Meredith refers to their entire student body as women, despite not all of the students at Meredith identifying as women.

For example, the name of the Big Sis/Lil’ Sis program and the fact that Meredith uses the term “sisterhood'’ on many posters and campaigns both force the gender binary on the campus community. This gender binary damages our transgender and non-binary students by limiting their individual expression and liberties. This sends a message that these students do not belong here when, in fact, they do. To highlight that this is a serious issue affecting our students, I reached out to individuals who belong to the trans or non-binary community.

The Herald interviewed Juniper Craft, ‘25, who identifies as transgender and uses they/them pronouns, and Stem, ‘25, who uses all pronouns and requested their last name not be used. When asked how Meredith’s use of gendered terms like “sisterhood” made them feel, Craft explained that it makes them feel “uncomfortable, unseen and like they have to hide themselves.” Stem said they’ve had a similar experience and explained that it makes them feel excluded. They posed the question, “If everyone else is a part of the sisterhood then where do I fit in?”

When both students were applying to Meredith, they knew it was a historically all-women's college. Craft said that during the admission process they emailed one of their advisors, unsure that they were even allowed to apply at all. They also explained that “it felt like they focused a lot on my ‘biological sex’ and automatically assumed I was a girl.” Stem said that they were “extremely hesitant when applying to Meredith.”

“Being someone of the female sex but not of the female gender made me worried that I may not fit at Meredith,” Stem explained.

This poses the question, should Meredith change their admissions policy? The obvious answer is yes. Both students said they felt that no matter how hard or long the process is to update the admissions policy, it should change in order to make all students feel welcome and ensure inclusivity.

Craft added, “Making students feel comfortable and welcome is tremendously more important than how long it might take to update the policy.”

Stem said, “It should be updated to welcome all, not just [those] who fit into gender roles.”In my opinion, the lack of gender inclusion at Meredith is a real and serious issue that must be addressed and resolved. Read more about this topic from the admissions perspective in The Herald’s November 2020 article “Gender Policies at an all Women’s Institution.”

By Evelyn Summers, Staff Writer



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