"In a rapidly changing world that includes a better understanding of gender identity, we are proud to extend our admissions policy in order to take into account transsexual men who wish to be part of the world." 39, an institution that has produced some of the greatest leaders in social justice, politics, business and the arts for more than 150 years, "said Terrance Dixon, vice president of Morehouse's Enrollment Management. "The ratification of this policy confirms the Order's commitment to train men with a disciplined spirit who will lead a life of leadership and service."
The policy was developed after 15 months of community engagement with faculty, staff, students and alumni, the statement said. Morehouse President David A. Thomas created a working group that led the community engagement meetings.
CNN reached out to Thomas but did not get an answer.
The policy also states that students admitted to Morehouse "are expected to identify themselves as men throughout their studies at Morehouse," the statement said. If a student passes from a man to a woman, it would no longer be possible to enroll in school, the statement said.
Trans women, or anyone who identifies as a woman, will not be considered for admission to school, the statement said. Morehouse spokeswoman Aileen Dodd said students who had identified a trans woman before 2020 were allowed to graduate from Morehouse, but were not allowed to do so after 2020. A trans woman is a born person but a man who has become a woman.
Among other historically black universities and universities (HBCU) that have non-discrimination policies regarding gender identity include Tuskegee University in Alabama, Howard University in Washington, DC Florida A & M University, Southern University and A & M College in Louisiana, Central University of North Carolina and Morgan State University in Maryland.
Students and elders react to the new policy
There were divergent views on the announcement. TiTi Naomi Tukes, a graduate of Morehouse in 2017, is not a fan of the new politics.
"I disagree unequivocally because it's an exclusion of transsexual women or non-conformist and non-binary students," said Tukes, who uses the pronouns they, them and theirs.
Tukes said that when students go to university, they do not usually know each other and can, during their academic career, question their religion, their sexuality or their sex.
"In this case, the college would kick students out for something they would have no control over," Tukes said. They added that the new policy "will encourage faculty, staff and administrators who already target and discriminate against transgender women and non-binary students".
Tatiana Rafael is one of those students. Graduate in sociology, Rafael is a transsexual woman who began her transition six months after having started dating Morehouse in 2017.
"Morehouse thus misses a chance to be progressive and inclusive," Rafael said.
She admits that she does not feel welcome at Morehouse.
"I felt rather marginalized and erased, I was never included in the image of the school, I was a little there by default," she said. adding that she felt that there was no room for a trans woman in Morehouse's image.
Rafael however stated that she saw the benefit of the new policy and what it could do for transsexual men.
"I think for trans men, it will be a great experience because they now have the opportunity to attend one of the best schools for black men," she said.
Robert Brown, a former 1996 graduate, said he was excited to see the evolution of politics.
"When I was in Morehouse, it was much more homophobic and much more transphobic," he said. "It's great to see the school welcoming more students."
According to Brown, there has always been an LGBTQ population in Morehouse, but this new policy takes "significant steps to franchise this population, rather than pretending that they do not exist".
Morehouse, which has 2,202 students enrolled, introduced a policy in 2009 prohibiting male students from wearing women's clothing, makeup or high heels in what has been called the "appropriate attire policy". This decision followed five gay students who, says a school official at the time, did not dress the same way as the men of Morehouse.