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College applications now have a blank box to ‘explain your gender’

Nick Duffy April 29, 2016
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A college applications system used by hundreds of institutions across the US is changing the way it deals with gender.

The Common Application system is used by over 600 colleges to standardise the process for applicants across the US, Canada, China, and many European countries.

Until now, the system has required applicants to pick either ‘male’ or ‘female’ – but transgender students without legal recognition complained this essentially forced them to tick the ‘wrong’ box.

A statement this week confirmed that the gender questions will be changed, offering an “optional free response text field” for people to explain their gender.

Gil Villanueva, Chair of the Board of Directors, said: “The Common Application is not merely a collection of data points.

“It is, rather, a vehicle through which all students regardless of their background can express who they are. We want to make sure that all students have the ability to express themselves in the ways in which they feel most comfortable.

“We are now at a place where we believe we can make an adjustment that not only serves students, but also helps to meet the needs of member colleges and universities.”

However, a further question will ask people to select their “sex assigned at birth” – which would still force transgender women to tick ‘male’ and vice versa.

Aliza Gilbert, College Counselor, Highland Park High School said: “Adding a question that addresses gender identity is important for two reasons.

“First, it affords students the opportunity to be authentic in their application, which is something that we talk about often in the college choice process.

“Second, inviting students to identify as a gender different from what was assigned at birth, allows colleges to demonstrate their support for transgender students as well as their desire to have them join their campus community.”

More: college, gender, LGBT, school, University, US

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