By Suzannah Weiss. Photos: Stocksy.
Though sororities have prized themselves as supportive spaces for women, one group has been left out of them: trans women. While some individual campus chapters have accepted transgender members, no national sorority has formally sanctioned their inclusion—until now.
On February 17, Alpha Chi Omega announced that all its chapters would accept trans women. “Alpha Chi Omega exists to develop and empower strong women,” Alpha Chi Omega national president Angela Costley Harris wrote to the sorority's members. “If we are to continue to live this important mission in today’s world, Alpha Chi Omega must be inclusive of all who live and identify as women, regardless of their gender assigned at birth.”
The statement on the sorority's website reads that "women, including those who live and identify as women, regardless of the gender assigned to them at birth, are eligible for membership in Alpha Chi Omega based solely on five membership standards."
Most of the reception among Alpha Chi Omega members has been positive. Alex Hansen, president of the University of Minnesota’s chapter, told Minnesota Daily that the group was embracing this policy.
“A transgender woman is just as much of a woman as I am,” member Melissa Medved said. "I think it would be really cool for Greek life as a whole to accept the people who are identifying as one way or the other."
“I don’t see how we wouldn’t make this work for girls,” Ronni Jackson, recruitment chair for the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Alpha Chi Omega chapter, told The Daily Nebraskan. “We want everyone to feel included and feel like they’re being respected just as much as anyone else.”
Pat Tetreault, director of the school's LGBTQA+ Resource Center, said the decision "demonstrates the growing awareness of gender identity going beyond the binary and a recognition and acceptance that gender is not binary," adding that it "lets trans students know that progress is happening and that acceptance is increasing even in the current socio-political times.”
Unfortunately, not everyone's welcomed the change. Savannah Rave, the University of Nebraska chapter's president, told the school's newspaper that some members had come to her with concerns. But she doesn't believe these negative sentiments will change the policy—or stop other schools from adopting it. It remains to be seen whether sororities will actually accept trans pledges in practice, but the shift is an important step.
“I think sooner or later it will spread—that’s how the trend is going,” Race said. “I just hope for an accepting atmosphere. Especially for recruitment on this campus, because it’s sometimes hard to be the only ones that are doing things first and hoping people will support you.”
This story originally appeared on Glamour.
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