When I learned of Marlborough’s recent recommendation regarding the enrollment of transgender students at Marlborough, I didn’t know how to feel. The recommendation states that students in grades seven to ten who no longer identify as female must leave the School, while enrollment of students in grade eleven will be evaluated case-by-case and seniors may remain at Marlborough.
Even though I sometimes wish I was more exposed to a co–ed environment during my high school years, I value Marlborough’s all-girls environment. It has allowed me to flourish as a confident and driven student, without the distraction of boys. I remember seeing a poster once that said something along the lines of “At Marlborough, every leader, team captain and student council member is a girl.” I appreciate the increased opportunities that Marlborough has given me, which is why I agree with the task force’s intent of preserving the all-girls community.
At the same time, I question this decision. Will younger students feel pressured to withhold their gender identities because of the threat of having to leave the school? I think this has the potential to put students who no longer identify as female in an extremely uncomfortable situation. These students are brave enough to realize their true identities and even announce them to the school. Yet they’re met with a recommendation that forces them out of the support network they’ve had since the 7th grade, potentially into a less welcoming environment.
Furthermore, this threat could even force students who fear an unknown future back into the closet, an outcome even worse than having to find a new source of support.
I know Marlborough will do its best to help transgender students find new schools that fit them. I also know this was a tough decision for the task force to make. But I still wish that the outcome was more inclusive and accommodating.
Weeks later, I still can’t pinpoint my feelings about the Transgender Task Force’s recommendation. I am satisfied with Marlborough’s efforts to maintain its close-knit female community, but I also feel guilty thinking this, as other students will be forced to leave the School, a community that they value as much as I do.
This issue has caused me to think about the importance of gender in society as a whole. As more students at single-sex institutions are questioning their gender identities, I am beginning to question whether these institutions will exist at all in the future.