Two major college applications are giving student applicants more gender options

Beginning this year, the Common Application and the Universal College Application – used by almost 700 schools – are implementing changes to make their applications more gender inclusive.

The Common Application will add an optional text field where students can describe their own gender identity. It will also change the “sex” field to “sex assigned at birth.” Part of me wants to get theoretical à la Simone de Beauvoir and challenge the idea that sex and gender are inherently distinct (given that the fields of medicine and science which support our understandings of biological sex are just as sexist as the institutions that police and limit gender). I’m compelled to wonder why “sex assigned at birth” is relevant or necessary information, and how it might undermine this progress. But I will acknowledge that allowing trans and gender non-conforming students an option to self-identify is certainly a step in the right direction.

The Universal College Application will now ask students for their “legal sex.” Still cringing. This prioritizes gender identities that are recognized and validated by the state. How inclusive is this when we keep seeing anti-LGBT laws that refuse to support non-cis people’s gender identity? The Universal College Application is also adding an optional self-identifying text box, but still requires students to choose between male and female.

What this tells me is that although these application providers may not necessarily be hearing all of the nuance, they are certainly listening the conversations about gender.

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Feministing's resident "sexpert", Sesali is a published writer and professional shit talker. She is a queer Black girl, fat girl, and trainer. She was the former Training Director at the United States Student Association and later a member of the Youth Organizing team at Planned Parenthood Federation of America. She received her bachelors in Women's and Gender Studies from Depaul University in 2012 and is currently pursuing a master's in Women's, Gender, and Sexuality studies at Georgia State University in Atlanta. A self identified "trap" feminist, and trained with a reproductive justice background, her interests include the intersections of feminism and: pop culture, youth culture, social media, hip hop, girlhood, sexuality, race, gender, and Beyonce. Sesali joined the team in 2010 as one of the winners of our So You Think You Can Blog contest.

is Feministing's resident sexpert and cynic.

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