The Ivy Coach Daily

June 1, 2024

Applying to College as a Transgender Student: Application Tips & Gender Statistics

This is the LGBTQ community’s rainbow flag.

Going to college is a hard transition for the most resilient of students, but for transgender youth, the adjustment is that much more difficult. Many trans students decide to live their lives as their true selves for the first time in college. To get there in the first place, most must navigate complicated bureaucracies and often hostile educational environments, while simultaneously taking on the burden of applying to colleges. So, where should a trans college applicant even begin?

Tips for Applying to College as a Transgender Student

Find Allies in Your Community and Lean on Them

Making it to college cannot be done alone, even when it feels like no one is on your side. Trans high schoolers should find supportive adults in their community, whether they’re parents, relatives, role models, or the proverbial queer-friendly English teacher. These allies will offer crucial emotional support and, at-times, logistical support, as college-bound students assume the stress of applying to college. Even those who feel like there is no one to rely on should not lose faith that college will open the door to LGBTQ+ community — it won’t be easy, but making it to a friendly campus will be worth the effort.

Pick the Right College

To this end, it is essential that all trans college applicants thoroughly research the schools in which they are interested. The unfortunate reality is that not all schools are trans-friendly. In order to be assured that your transition will be supported, your civil rights will be protected, and your peers will be accepting, trans students should look into the LGBTQ+ resources on prospective campuses. Look up things like “name change policy,” “transgender housing accommodations,” and “trans student groups on campus” on any given college’s website, and “trans civil rights protections” in any given state. Even trans-friendly colleges located in states passing healthcare bans and discriminatory statutes will not be able to protect their students from regional political discrimination.

Craft a Competitive Application

It used to be the case that a trans applicant would come out through their personal essay,  recount a few examples of hardships they faced as a result of their transness, and affirm their belief that the college to which they are applying will be the best and most supportive place for them, and such an essay would secure admission to even the most elite university. Times have changed a bit since this era. While applicants should by no means hide who they are in their applications, we at Ivy Coach do not recommend that trans identity be the centerpiece of the Personal Statement.

If a student has faced significant oppression as a result of their transness or has dedicated themselves to activism on behalf of trans lives, those experiences should certainly come into play in any writing on the application. But simply gesturing to one’s identity or the broader landscape of LGBTQ+ civil rights without giving admissions officers a look at the person behind the identity will read as hollow and opportunistic. Transness is an incredibly special part of what makes you you, and you are who colleges want to get to know. 

Gender Breakdown Across America’s Top Universities

The charts below provide a comprehensive breakdown of the gender makeup of America’s top national universities and liberal arts colleges. As is plainly obvious, most schools do not collect data on gender-nonconforming students (to say nothing of all trans students). Those schools that do report the number of gender-nonconforming people in the student body, such as Yale University, the University of California Schools, or Williams College, are more likely to be trans-friendly.

However, the raw number of non-cis students in a given student body is only one metric for determining the scope of a college’s trans community. Some trans communities exist under the radar, thriving through niche student groups and party cultures that do not make it into college brochures. Getting in touch with current trans students enrolled at colleges through email, social media, and campus visits is a great way to gauge the particularities of a school’s relationship with transness.

Best National Universities

College/University2024 U.S. News and World Report Best National University RankingNumber of Full-Time Male StudentsNumber of Full-Time Female StudentsNumber of Full-Time Gender Nonconforming Students
Princeton University#12,7692,7710
Massachusetts Institute of Technology#22,3782,2230
Harvard University#33,4713,7350
Stanford University#33,7894,0520
Yale University#53,2293,461115
University of Pennsylvania#64,5015,2160
California Institute of Technology#75374450
Duke University#73,3073,5310
Brown University#93,5573,6630
Johns Hopkins University#92,5673,0410
Northwestern University#93,9514,5761
Columbia University#123,3013,30842
Cornell University#127,1948,6100
University of Chicago#123,9423,5820
University of California, Berkeley#1513,64717,481415
University of California, Los Angeles#1512,39219,072299
Rice University#172,2412,1520
Dartmouth College#182,2372,11963
Vanderbilt University#183,3813,7060
University of Notre Dame#204,5794,3740
University of Michigan#2114,80216,5170
Georgetown University#223,0234,1640
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill#227,62611,7310
Carnegie Mellon University#243,5673,7090
Emory University#243,0114,0110
University of Virginia#247,2609,3173
Washington University in St. Louis#243,5043,9410

Best Liberal Arts Colleges

College/University2024 U.S. News and World Report Best National Liberal Arts College RankingNumber of Full-Time Male StudentsNumber of Full-Time Female StudentsNumber of Full-Time Gender Nonconforming Students
Williams College#1991104420
Amherst College#29149810
Pomona College#47729652
Swarthmore College#47948470
Wellesley College#4123340
United States Air Force Academy#7287812070
United States Military Academy#833949990
Bowdoin College#98879580
Carleton College#9100310140
Barnard College#11030910
Claremont McKenna#116826950
Grinnell College#118069000
Middlebury College#11128414640
Wesleyan University#11138815810
Davidson College#1689210120
Hamilton College#16903112318
Harvey Mudd College#164584530
Smith College#16125170
Vassar College#1692215120
Colgate University#21138317290
Washington and Lee University#219169710
Bates College#2486286625
University of Richmond#25135215900

It’s Trite, But It’s True: It Gets Better

Ultimately, the most important aspect of applying to college as a transgender student is holding onto hope. Trans people everywhere must have thick skin, incredible drive and creativity, and resilience like no other. All of these skills will come into play when applying to college, which provides great practice for navigating the world as a trans adult.

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