Mills was established in 1852 to provide access for women to higher education and economic independence. This tradition continued throughout the decades as Mills debuted graduate programs in the 1920s to support the professional advancement of women and launched inclusive nonbinary admissions practices and policies in the 2000s. Mills broke new barriers in 2014 by becoming the first women's college in the US to establish a formal admission policy for transgender and gender-questioning students.
Mills College established a cross-departmental committee of faculty, staff, and students to identify current and best practices for transgender and gender-fluid inclusion in college life. Their work led Mills to become the first women's college in the country to establish an official admissions policy for transgender and gender-questioning students. While many of the findings in the report have been addressed, or times/needs/language have changed, Mills took a leading role in an international conversation about changing definitions of gender. View the April 2013 report (PDF).
In 2020, Mills established the Trans Studies Speaker Series hosted by leading transgender studies scholar, activist, and Emmy-Award winner Susan Stryker, Barbara Lee Distinguished Chair in Women's Leadership. This series offers a regular public forum for exploring transgender issues with some of today's leading thinkers, artists, and activists.