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Sex & Gender

black transgender men can now attend morehouse college

April 17, 2019
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The “Morehouse Man” is an famous figure in the Black community owing to the esteem attached to being an alumnus of one of the most revered Black, private, all-male institutions in the world. More than 150 years after its founding, Morehouse College has decided to amend its policy and allow transgender men to attend the college according to the New York Times. As a society and community steadily yet slowly growing accustomed to a broader and more accessible definitions of gender, a step like this adds institutional weight to supporting the Black queer community but the Black community as a whole still has work to do and, when it comes to this policy, so does Morehouse.

The policy states that “once admitted, students are expected to continue to self-identify as men throughout their matriculation.” The language in the policy poses an issue for non-binary students like Mx Oldham. According to Oldham, “Who I am on this campus, they are trying to kind of like remove me from self-identifying myself,” they told the  New York Times. “They said in their policy that they are going to still use male-gendered language and that affects me. Sometimes I do dress as a feminine, non-binary person, so when I dress the way I want to dress and it’s a problem, that affects me.”

Tatiana Rafael is 28-year-old Morehouse student who was accepted when she identified as male and transitioned while attending the college. “It is very lonely being the only transsexual woman on campus,” Ms. Rafael said. “I feel erased and marginalized most of the time because the image that Morehouse presents is the all-male image and in that image, they don’t make room for a trans woman.” The admission of trans men is a step in the right direction but the goal of such policies is to foster an institutional understanding of gender that one day allows for the “Morehouse man” to evolve and hopefully bring new meaning to the pride behind the banner.

Even as a necessary step forward, Morehouse president Mr. Thomas admitted that the policy was not implemented with the consultation of the transgender men on campus. In fact, Thomas said that he was “not aware as to whether currently, we have a trans man on campus.” The likeliness is that some exist that people aren’t aware of the dangerous reality linked to being trans dictates that one move in survival and blend in. This isn’t surprising when a former graduate said that Morehouse said that “It is the only black institution in the United States that is dedicated to the intellectual and moral formation of black men and to allow trans women to enroll or matriculate or graduate from Morehouse would change the moral fiber of the institution completely.”

There is work to be done inside the Black community when it comes to the state of queer lives. It is these attitudes that we have to dismantle and undo before we can earnestly undo the attitudes that seek to disenfranchise us. Once again, this is a step in the right direction; what matters now is what step Morehouse takes next.