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“I’m Part of the Community, Too”: Women’s College Alumnae Responses to Transgender Admittance Policies

Gender Panic, Gender Policy

ISBN: 978-1-78743-203-1, eISBN: 978-1-78743-202-4

Publication date: 27 October 2017


Purpose: The purpose of this chapter is to examine women’s college alumnae’s gender panics surrounding transgender admittance policies and negotiations on how to define the boundaries of the alumnae community in moments of these panics.

Methodology/Approach: I explore these negotiations by conducting a modified grounded theory approach of online discussion threads of one women’s college alumnae Facebook group from 2013 to 2016. These threads (39 threads; 2,812 comments) discuss transgender admissions policies at women’s colleges and the definition of woman more broadly.

Findings: I outline three strategies that define who belongs to a women’s college community in response to peers’ gender panics. First, I discuss the ways in which alumnae “call out hate” and label exclusionary peers as Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminists (TERFS). Second, I discuss the negotiated boundaries of who is included within the women’s college community. Finally, I focus on the recommended suggestions and expectations for fellow alumnae to be allies toward their trans peers.

Social Implications: These findings imply that feminist boundary negotiation is not only simply based on external threats, but can also be debated among members within the community.

Originality/Value of Study: This study highlights the nuances and strategies of boundary construction in regards to the social category of woman. I propose that researchers expand theorizations of gendered boundary negotiation to consider the ways in which boundaries are drawn not only as a form of panic and exclusion but also as a response to such panics to promote inclusivity and diversity.




I would like to thank Jessica Herling, Christine Labuski, and the editors for their invaluable feedback as I develop this work.


Nanney, M. (2017), "“I’m Part of the Community, Too”: Women’s College Alumnae Responses to Transgender Admittance Policies", Demos, V. and Segal, M.T. (Ed.) Gender Panic, Gender Policy (Advances in Gender Research, Vol. 24), Emerald Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 133-154.



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