Common app adds questions for transgender students


The Common App today announces a series of changes to make the app more inclusive for transgender applicants. The application:

  • Add a question to give candidates the option to share their preferred first name.
  • Add a question about pronouns to give students the option of selecting multiple times or adding a set of pronouns.
  • Switch the presentation from a question of “sex” to “legal sex” to reduce confusion among students.

The changes are all designed by thinking about ways to prevent some candidates from feeling left out. The latest change is designed to replace an earlier effort to include trans students. The app asked about ‘sex at birth’. This question ignored that some trans students had seen their legal status changed by the time they applied to college. The question was first changed to “sex” and will now be changed to “legal sex”.

Jenny Rickard, CEO of Common App, said the association has told its members that “we will not be neutral” and will look for ways to reach a range of populations who have not always felt welcome.

Since then, the common application ended the question about high school disciplinary files, often finding them racist. And the common application has decided to no longer ask veterans about their release status.

The new changes aren’t the first time the Common App has tried to be inclusive for transgender students. He added a text box in 2016 where students could voluntarily explain their gender identity. Over 69,000 students did so last year, out of a total of over a million who completed an application

But Rickard said a survey of admissions officials found many wanted something more specific and some students didn’t understand the question.

“We hope that students who don’t identify as male or female will be able to see that it’s okay,” Rickard said. She added that most admissions officials said they were interested in the information not for admissions, but when students register.

She said if a Common App member college doesn’t agree with the new policies, it doesn’t need to use the information the questions get.

Keygan Miller, senior advocacy associate for Project Trevor, a suicide prevention and crisis response organization for LGBTQ youth, welcomed the new Common Enforcement policy and said it was no exaggeration to say that it could save lives.

Transgender and non-binary youth attempted suicide at half the normal rates when their preferred pronouns were used, they said (Miller’s preferred pronoun).

“The big problem here is adding it as a formal question – that says I have a space here,” Miller said. And if a college shares information about admitted students with other professionals at a college, it can help them too. “It affects the way they enter space on day one,” they said.


Comments are closed.