Why did Hollins establish a transgender policy?
The essence of Hollins University’s mission is to provide undergraduate liberal arts education for women. We have been a women’s college at the undergraduate level since 1842. Within that framework, we pride ourselves on being an inclusive community that maintains a nondiscriminatory policy throughout our operation.
In light of our mission, the Hollins University Board of Trustees deemed it necessary and appropriate in November 2007 to formulate a university policy regarding undergraduate students who decide to undergo sex reassignment from female to male.
Who does the policy specifically apply to, and what does it direct?
The policy addresses only those persons who self-identify as males and initiate any of the following processes to transform from female to male: hormone therapy, surgical procedure, or changing their legal name with the intent of identifying as a man.
The policy states that if a degree-seeking undergraduate student undergoes sex reassignment from female to male at any point during her time at Hollins, she will not be permitted to continue attending Hollins beyond the conclusion of the term in which the student attains 64 academic credit hours.
If a student transitions after having already achieved the 64 credit hour threshold, the student will be able to remain at Hollins through the end of the term in which the student initiates the transition process.
The 64-credit hour limit is intended to support the student’s transfer to and success at another college or university, and in either case Hollins will assist the student in the transfer process.
What are the policy’s legal ramifications?
We do not believe this policy violates the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment of the Constitution because as a private institution, Hollins is not covered by the prohibitions of the Equal Protection Clause.
Furthermore, we do not believe the prohibitions set forth under Title IX are relevant to this policy as Title IX does not specifically protect the “transgender” process. Title IX prohibits discrimination in sex education programs “based on gender non-conformity.” That is not what Hollins’ policy addresses or intends to stop or prohibit.
As a single-sex institution Hollins is uniquely situated to determine the criteria of its graduates, and to our knowledge the Department of Education has issued no prohibition on an institution such as Hollins determining upon whom, male or female, it will confer its degrees.
Our transgender policy is fair and on solid legal ground.
Is there a process in place to allow the policy to evolve in order to continue meeting the needs of the campus community?
Yes. As the official policy states, “Recognizing the changing landscape as it pertains on the gender spectrum, this policy may be reviewed and/or updated,” The policy was most recently reviewed and revised by the Board of Trustees in 2013 and again in 2016.
At the same time, Hollins embraces the opportunity to educate the campus community on the variety of perspectives related to gender issues. We constantly seek ways in which we can foster a positive conversation among students, faculty, and staff so that we all may reach a greater understanding of this important topic.