Last spring, The Wellesley News Editorial Board called on the Board of Trustees and College administration to allow the transgender flag murals between the Science Center and Founders to be left up. This is not an isolated occurrence: in spring 2021, we reminded the Board of Trustees and College administration that we are not all “Wellesley women.” In response to the March 6 email from College President Paula Johnson, titled “Affirming our mission and embracing our community,” The Wellesley News Editorial Board is once again stating that transgender and nonbinary students have always belonged and will continue to belong at Wellesley, a historically women’s college.
We disapprove of and entirely disagree with President Johnson’s email. As journalists, we understand the power of rhetoric to do good or harm. The need for newspapers to take stances on their editorial standards is more important than ever, as demonstrated by the harm caused by The New York Times’ anti-trans pivot. In the past year, the Times has published “more than 15,000 words’ worth of front-page stories asking whether care and support for young trans people might be going too far or too fast.” This alarming “newspaper crusade” inspired over 4,000 current and former Times’ contributors to draft and sign a letter condemning the paper’s anti-trans editorial bias. This bias has real-world consequences, as demonstrated by the alarming spike in anti-trans legislation in the United States; 39/50 states have proposed and/or passed legislation affecting trans people’s ability to access healthcare, public facilities and safe spaces to be themselves in 2023. It is telling that President Johnson did not mention these legislative attacks against the trans community in her email.
In our next cycle, we intend to publish a longer and more thoroughly researched editorial that includes a response to the upcoming student vote on the gender inclusivity ballot question. For now, we would like to emphasize that President Johnson’s response is part of a broader trend of Wellesley’s administration and the Board of Trustees intervening in student discourse, which sets a problematic precedent. Much like when President Johnson condemned our editorial supporting the liberation of Palestine and student-led pro-Palestine activism, College administration and the Board of Trustees have once again monopolized conversations about Wellesley’s community and future, conversations that should be led by students, who make up the majority of the College community. We also want to remind the Wellesley community that President Johnson is the spokesperson for the Board of Trustees, which must be held equally responsible for the College’s transphobic rhetoric.
We want to end with our unequivocal support for transgender, nonbinary and gender non-conforming people — at Wellesley and everywhere — who enrich all communities they are part of. We strive to reflect this principle in our coverage and refuse the use of our platform to spew transphobic rhetoric especially because of its very real consequences.
VOTE COUNT: 6/6 Editorial Board members voted in favor
The Wellesley News Editorial Board:
Micol J. Zhai