A sorority has become the first in the U.S. to welcome trans women into all of its chapters nationwide.
On February 17, the national headquarters for Alpha Chi Omega, a 132-year-old Greek formed at Indiana’s DePauw University, announced it was lifting its ban on transgender women.
“We want everyone to feel included and feel like they’re being respected just as much as anyone else,” Ronni Jackson, the recruitment chair for the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Alpha Chi Omega chapter, told the Daily Nebraskan.
Local chapters of other sororities have begun welcoming trans people, and there are a few LGBT-specific Greek social organizations, like Gamma Rho Lambda and Delta Lambda Phi. But Alpha Chi Omega is the first sorority in the 115-year-old National Panhellenic Conference, which governs a majority of the nation’s oldest sororities, to change its national policy.
Reaction from Alpha Chi Omega members has been mostly positive, but UNL chapter president Savannah Rave admits some of women in her house had reservations.
“You definitely saw the positive side of it first, but there are mixed feelings about all things. Some girls who had concerns came to me quietly behind closed doors just to express those.”
Though she did her best to make concerned sisters feel heard, she says she wants all women to feel welcome and accepted at Alha Chi Omega, including trans women. “You don’t have to support something to, at the end of the day, be kind about it. If we were to accept a transgender woman into our house, she would be given the same rights as all of us here.”
Others have explicitly welcomed the new change.
“It pushed Alpha Chi to prove that we are really inclusive and empowering to our women,” University of Minnesota Alphi Chi Omega member Melissa Medved told Minnesota Daily. “A transgender woman is just as much of a woman as I am.”
This story has been updated to include information on existing LGBT-inclusive Greek organizations.