According to Queerty, Trinity allowed Zeta Chi to decide for itself whether to allow a trans student, Kwame, to rush. They decided they would — said the dean of students in an email, "The Zeta Chi sorority has determined that it would welcome a male student, who self-identifies as transgender, to rush their organization. The group — and the student, Kwame — are clear that he may or may not be extended a bid offer." Essentially, Kwame will be allowed to try out for the organization, but may not necessarily be accepted. The email concludes with the statement, "Kwame and [Zeta Chi President] Sarah have reviewed and approved this message." Queerty's Sarah Nigel notes that "If Kwame approved the message, then I assume she does not mind being identified as a 'male student,' though those pronouns can always be tricky for the unfamiliar." And pronouns have indeed been a difficult issue for trans people in sororities in the past.
Last year, the Washington City Paper told the story of Devin Alston-Smith, who joined George Washington University's Zeta Phi Beta sorority in 2008. At that time, he asked the other sorority members to use male pronouns when referring to him. They agreed — at first. But then other members started saying things like, "You are a girl. You have to stop acting like a boy." One sister refused to use male pronouns because of a "moral" objection, and then refused Alston-Smith's compromise of just referring to him as "Devin." She also told Alston-Smith he couldn't come to events wearing men's shoes, and persisted in referring to him as "she" in front of others. Finally Alston-Smith was kicked out of the sorority on a technicality. The situation left him depressed, and he ended up taking a leave of absence from school.
The above is pretty much an example of how not to do things if you're a sorority, but Zeta Chi doesn't have many positive models. Much coverage of trans people in Greek life in the last few years has been about their absence or invisibility. Zeta Chi is taking a step in the right direction by letting Kwame rush — should she end up in the sorority, they'll also need to make sure they treat her fairly and equally. And sororities across the country need to consider how traditionally gender-segregated organizations can be open to transgender participants. The Gamma Rho Lambda chapter at UCLA, which admits anyone who identifies as female, offers one possible approach — though by its standards, Alston-Smith probably couldn't have joined. Would a fraternity at his school have offered a spot to him? Do universities need to explore more Greek organizations that admit all genders? These are complex questions, but one thing's for sure — sororities and fraternities will better understand trans issues the more trans people join. And letting Kwame rush is one way to start that process.
Trinity University Sorority Opens Up Rush To Trans Student [Queerty]
Related: Menace To Sorority [Washington City Paper]
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