National fraternity Chi Phi made a big decision last week: They will now allow transgender men to join their organization. The fraternity shared a press release on June 30 explaining the policy change that will allow "any male as defined by valid legal documentation" to join, effective immediately.
Undergraduate chairman of the Committee of Membership Sam Borchart said in the press release that the change was “a testament that our Fraternity and its individual members want to make Chi Phi more inclusive.” The change was apparently the result of an initiative by undergrad students at the fraternity's annual convention.
"We hope this opens the door to further discussion about inclusivity, particularly for transgender men who want to join us in brotherhood," Borchart said.
Earlier this year, a transgender student attending Ohio Wesleyan University pledged the fraternity, but was told he could not be initiated because he was legally documented as female. The Executive Director of the chapter told the student that allowing him to be initiated would violate the fraternity’s Constitution. The student, Ryan Bishop, wrote about his experience in a post on the Odyssey. It's worth pointing out that the fraternity's changes would still not allow Bishop to join the fraternity, as he specifically said his legal documents listed him as female. While Chi Phi has taken a step toward inclusivity, it's still pretty hard in many states to change legal documents to correctly reflect your gender—for example, some states require you to get sex reassignment surgery before you can change your birth certificate or even your driver's license. The barrier for transgender people to join the fraternity remains high.
Chi Phi is not the first Greek organization to allow transgender members to join in some capacity, but they're definitely still on the forefront of these changes. Here's to student organizations opening up to all students, little by little.