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College Applications Just Took a Huge Step to Become More Inclusive

Thousands of high school students across the country become pretty familiar during their senior year with websites like the Common Application and the Universal College Application. They spend weeks on end ensuring that their personal statements are pristine, and that their short response answers are just witty enough to make them look like they have a personality to go along with their perfect GPAs.

Up until now, these two college application systems have not allowed for any type of gender-identification flexibility. The only options available in past years have been “male” or “female.” However, both the Common Application and the Universal College Application are making a big change for the next round of college applicants. According to the Huffington Post, “the next version of their applications will allow transgender and gender non-conforming applicants better choices to self-identify.”


For the Common Application, this will mean that there will now be an option text field where students will be able to further explain gender identity. Furthermore, rather than identifying one’s “sex” in the application process, the field will now read “sex assigned at birth.”

In a statement published on the Common App’s website, Gil Villanueva, chairman of the Common Application’s board of directors and dean of admissions at the University of Richmond, said, “we want to make sure that all students have the ability to express themselves in the ways in which they feel most comfortable.”

In regards to the Universal College Application, starting this summer, applicants will be asked to specify their “legal sex,” rather than just asked their “sex.” Furthermore, the options for this identification will be either “male,” “female,” or “self-identity,” which will be accompanied by a free text box, in which students can explain their gender identification. 

There has been an overwhelmingly positive response to the big changes made by these companies. Victoria Rodriguez-Roldan, director of the task force’s Trans/Gender Non-Conforming Justice Project, told the Huffington Post that “by updating outdated forms and applications, educational institutions help create opportunities for transgender and gender non-conforming students to feel included and affirmed.”

Progress has only been spreading through the circles of higher education. According to Takepart.com, in August, the University of California also chose to update the gender identification options on their applications. The applications for the university's nine undergraduate campuses now include "six gender identity options: male, female, trans male, trans female, gender queer/gender non-conforming, and different identity."

These changes are a big step toward fully welcoming transgender students to college campuses across the country. Let's hope even more institutions make these kinds of changes in the coming years!