Let me paint a little picture of me for you :)
It’s finals season here at UConn (woof!), and yesterday night I was in the middle of reviewing Brit Lit and OChem second semester, looking over carbonyl chemistry and Hogarth’s “The Rake’s Progress.” Of course I checked my Facebook on A Study Break™. I learned that…well:
Yesterday, Smith College announced that its admissions policy is now explicitly inclusive of “self identified trans women.” While there are language issues I have with Smith’s current policy–for example, not explicitly addressing nonbinary trans inclusion–I am happy; I am so tired, but happy.
I remember when the entirety of This Campaign started in my junior year of high school with after-school conversations at the library: my friend Sarah Éloïse Giovanniello, who introduced me to Feminism™, had also sparked in me this notion that maybe I could apply to Smith College. I’d heard of how Smith, along with so many other women’s colleges, were such empowering places of higher ed–and I wanted to be a part of these spaces. I wanted inclusion, and solidarity, and strength through community.
Further research didn’t yield any openly trans women at Smith, which struck me as odd. The demands for correct-pronoun gender markers on my school forms, which weren’t under my control, were odd. Until the debacle of the returned applications*, when it hit me: Smith’s administration did not want me or other trans women at Smith.
*Smith returned my application twice without review: the first time was because of Amity High School’s staff, which sent the app with clerical errors on my gender markers. The second time was due to my FAFSA, a federal financial aid doc, being marked “male” for selective service reasons.
Smith didn’t want me, or other trans women.
So the media pitches began, and things started rolling.
To all of the people who worked with me, alongside me, perpendicular to and opposing me: I guess this is good game, in which we shake hands after the match. From Smith QnA to GLAAD NYC, to the countless media organizations that lent me their space to speak, to the queer women and the women of color and the queer women of color who came before me and built the road to walk, to the people who sent me letters of support and solidarity that I read over at 2am in the morning during my senior year of high school during application AND finals season to remind myself why I was doing this–
Good game. I applaud you, and I applaud me, together.
When I put my story out into the world, I originally just wanted one thing: for those institutions and individuals in power, to recognize that trans oppression is not silent. We will not be this time, are not to be, will never be crushed and silenced by you.
Smith College’s inclusion of trans women is one very small ripple in the pond of the world, I know. But it is a demonstration of the fact that there’s a lot of power you can’t see, propagated, emanating onwards and outwards.
There’s a lot of power you can’t see in trans women.
And though we are fabulous people, we’re stronger than we will ever look.
PS: I am not thinking of transferring to Smith College at this time. I’ve made my academic and social life here at UConn as a pre-med English major, and in another life–but this is the life I have right now, and I am enjoying it.
HOWEVER, I think what is owed is an honorary degree from Smith College, addressed to Calliope Yuktuck Wong, as an honorary member of the Smith Class of 2017. Think we can make this happen?
–Calliope Yuktuck Wong,