Virginia women's college updates transgender student policy

ROANOKE, Va. (AP) — A private women's university in Virginia has announced a new policy allowing students who transition from female to male while at school to remain enrolled and earn their degree.

Under the new guidelines at Hollins University in Roanoke, enrolled students who transition from female to male will no longer be required to transfer to another institution. As for applicants transitioning from male to female, they no longer have to complete a full surgical transition before being eligible for admission.

Hollins' Board of Trustees Chairwoman Alexandra Trower told The Roanoke Times that the changes adopted Saturday recognize gender plurality while maintaining the university's identity as a women's college.

The updated policy says the university will consider admission for any undergraduate applicants who "consistently live and identify as women, regardless of the gender assigned to them at birth."

Applicants must identify as a woman on application materials. Students who were assigned female at birth but who now identify as male are not eligible for admission. The policy says individuals who identify as nonbinary, meaning a gender identity that's not strictly male or female, are not eligible for admission, either.

Under Hollins' first transgender policy in 2007, a person born male had to have completed a full surgical transition to female in order to apply. That policy allowed enrolled students to adopt a male identity, but if they took steps to transition such as taking hormones, having surgery or legally changing their name, they would only be able to finish the semester before the university required them to transfer.

That policy was revised in 2013 and 2016 before the most recent change, but the school has faced criticism from those who found previous versions of its policy "unfair and invasive," the newspaper reported.

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Information from: The Roanoke Times, http://www.roanoke.com