Feminist Class At Barnard Called Out For Not Representing Transgender Individuals

SHUTTERSTOCK/ Melanie Lemahieu

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Neetu Arnold Contributor
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A first-year writing seminar at Barnard College in New York City is receiving criticism for not being inclusive enough to individuals with nonconforming gender identities.

“Women And Culture” is a first-year writing seminar offered in the spring and fall semesters that “challenges traditional dichotomies that cast gender as an essential attribute rather than a cultural construction, and interrogates the categories of both ‘woman’ and ‘culture’ themselves,” according to the course description.

While the description notes the class would not delve into subject matters as deeply as an “Intro to Women’s and Gender Studies” class, students are calling on the course to include texts from authors who are not biologically women.

“I think it’s important to bring in these perspectives not because we need to be representing everyone all the time, but because we need to be questioning what gender is, which is not only useful for trans and nonbinary people but also for cis women who are also wrapped up in patriarchy and the gender binary,” said student Jet Harper, who identifies as nonbinary, the Columbia Spectator reported Wednesday.

Another student who identifies as nonbinary said her identity in discussions of gender and sex is “always an extra add-on.” (RELATED: More Than 50 Colleges Endorsing The First Ever Holiday Of Zieselves, Xerselves, Eirselves)

“I’ve been raised as a woman so I experience a lot of [what women experience], but it’s also different because I am not a woman,” the unnamed student said, according to the Spectator. “My identity is always an extra add-on. Any discussion about being a woman is limited to being a woman and not that this is the experience of people who were socialized as women.”

Director of the First-Year Writing Program Wendy Schor-Haim said the main focus of the first-year writing classes is on writing.

“Fundamentally, this is a writing class and the point of the class is to give [students] fundamental and critical writing skills that they can transfer to other classes,” Schor-Haim said to the Spectator. “No text makes it onto the syllabus that isn’t really, really useful for developing these type of skills.”

Nearly 33 percent of Barnard first-year students take “Women and Culture,” the Spectator reported. The feminist writing course is one of three first-year writing seminars that Barnard students are required to take.

There are more than 2,500 undergraduate women at the college, according to Barnard’s website.

Barnard extended admissions to people who were not biologically women in 2015.

“Barnard will consider for admission those applicants who consistently live and identify as women, regardless of the gender assigned to them at birth,” a statement from the college reads.

Schor-Haim did not immediately respond to The Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.

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