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NBJC Salutes Spelman College’s New Policy to Admit Transgender Women


WASHINGTON, DC – The National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC), the nation’s leading civil rights organization dedicated to the empowerment of Black lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) people, released the following statement in support and admiration of Spelman College’s new institutional policy to admit transgender women:

Spelman College is breaking down barriers and setting a powerful example of what inclusivity must look like for students attending Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). Spelman honors an enduring legacy of sisterhood by educating Black women through a lens that critically examines sexism, patriarchy, transphobia and cis-heterosexism. This inclusive policy follows Bennett College, the only other HBCU exclusively for women that has implemented groundbreaking policy to admit transgender women.

NBJC is committed to supporting the capacity of HBCUs to provide their students, faculty, staff and the campus and surrounding community—especially members of the LGBTQ community—with a 21st century education in a safe, welcoming and affirming environment. Spelman College’s inclusive institutional admissions policy is a major step in the right direction. By celebrating the diversity of womanhood through policy change, Spelman is leading efforts to provide a holistic education that centers the experiences of all Black women. Spelman has a history of demonstrated leadership as exampled by the launch of its Women’s Research and Resource Center more than 35 years ago. The Women’s Research and Resource Center is the first women’s research center at an HBCU. Spelman College is also the first HBCU to offer a women and gender studies major.

With much progress comes even more responsibility. Inclusive policies are a necessary first step. Beyond inclusive policies, we must work together to ensure change in practice that supports and affirms all Black women. Specifically, all HBCUs must commit to changes in both policy and practice that recognizes the challenges that Black transgender people face.  HBCUs must continue to be intentional in serving the most vulnerable members of our community by ensuring that their safety, health and wellness are priorities to their student life experience.

Allowing transgender women to attend Spelman is a critical step forward, but we must do the work required to ensure that Black transgender women have the academic, professional and social support needed to thrive—both in school and in life. NBJC is excited to continue supporting HBCUs in doing this important work in ways that recognize and celebrate both the strength of the diversity within the Black community and honor the experiences of our transgender community.

Spelman College and Bennett College are both demonstrating what it means to truly exemplify inclusion. Transgender women are simply women, which means we must transcend the ideologies, belief and stigma of current times by challenging the oppressive culture and systems of the world we live in.

The National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC) is a civil rights organization dedicated to the empowerment of Black lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and same gender loving (LGBTQ/SGL) people, including people living with HIV/AIDS.