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News > World

Transgender Men Can Now Join America's Oldest Fraternity

  • The Chi Phi house at the University of Virginia.

    The Chi Phi house at the University of Virginia. | Photo: Wiki Commons

Published 10 July 2016

Trans men can now join one of America’s largest fraternities, but is this really progress?

One of the nation's oldest fraternities, Chi Phi, announced last month that it would allow trans pledges, but critics wonder if membership in an orgranization so steeped in misogyny and patriarchy truly represents progress. 

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Founded at Princeton University in 1824, Chi Phi  said that anyone who is legally recognized as male, regardless of their gender at birth, can now pledge the fraternity, which claims as it members US Senators, corporate executives, and television news broadcaster Walter Cronkite. 

"We felt this amendment to Chi Phi's Constitution would change the conversation surrounding transgender men and their ability to join the Fraternity," Sam Borchart, undergraduate chairman of the Committee of Membership, said in a press release. "One change is never a stopping point, and we hope this opens the door to further discussion about inclusivity, particularly for transgender men who want to join us in brotherhood,” he added.

The National Center for Transgender Equality said they were pleased with the fraternity's imove, but still had reservations about language requiring "valid legal documentation." 

"All educational programs and facilities, including Greek life, should be open to trans and all students," Mara Keisling, Executive Director for the National Center for Transgender Equality, told  ABC News. "We would caution the fraternity that their use of the 'valid legal documentation' as a definition of who may join Chi Phi still will limit many of the people they hope to expand to include."

The move is seen as noteworthy for a Greek culture that is often associated with racist and misognyistic vales, and an incubator for patriarchal ideas. The recent publicized rape of an unconsicous woman by a Stanford swimmer occurred at an on campus fraternity house, as one example. 

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Some compare the move to the U.S. military’s recent end on a ban on transgender service members. Lily Zheng writes: “As a trans woman of color, I find it particularly ironic that soon I will be able to serve the same country that brutalizes my black and brown sisters on the streets and in prisons by brutalizing black and brown people elsewhere.”

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