support all sisters,not just cis-ters:

lgbtq students react to transgender policy at stephens college.



by Jacob Moscovitch

COLUMBIA, MO. - Last fall, Stephens College announced a new policy on admitting transgender and nonbinary students.

Almost a year earlier, the Stephens College Gay-Straight Alliance presented information on the difference between sex and gender — biological sex versus expressed gender — to the college’s board of trustees. It was the latest step in a longer push from some alumni and students to establish a policy on transgender students.


“For so long, the board didn’t even take the issue seriously at all,” said Emile Eller, a fashion design freshman who identifies as nonbinary, meaning as neither man nor woman.

Under the policy, transgender women — who were born male but identify as women — with legal documentation showing they have made the medical transition or are in the process of doing so may be admitted. People born female and now identifying as nonbinary may be admitted.


However, students born female but now identifying as men or who are transitioning to men will not be admitted. Students who are nonbinary but are transitioning to men will not be admitted or allowed to stay at Stephens after the policy takes effect next fall.

“It seems like when there’s a movement, there is always a portion of people that get left out,” said junior Arianna Varner, a fashion design major and an LGBTQ ally. “A women’s movement is every woman. That’s transgender women. That’s black women. That’s every woman.”


Over a dozen women’s colleges have developed admissions policies for transgender students. As MJ Jonen, a senior in creative writing, put it, “We must support all sisters, not just cis-sters.” A cisgendered person’s gender aligns with her or his birth-assigned sex.

On Monday, about 10 people from Westboro Baptist Church, a Kansas group known to use inflammatory hate speech, protested the policy at Broadway and College Avenue. They were met by three times as many counterprotesters from Stephens, MU and the community standing on the other three corners of the intersection.


Story, photos, video and audio by Jacob Moscovitch