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Chi Omega Invalidates Nonbinary Sorority Sister's Membership

Chi Omega Invalidates Nonbinary Sorority Sister's Membership

Fa Guzman

The former sorority member says the national organization is being exclusionary and transphobic because of the current political climate.

A former sorority sister at a university in New York was kicked out of their sorority by the national organization’s leadership because they are nonbinary, the student claims.

Fa Guzman, 22, is a senior performing arts and communications major at St. Lawrence University. They tell The Advocate they didn’t feel like belonging for much of their adolescence. Struggling with their identity, they embarked, like many do, on getting a college education and discovering themselves.

Guzman says that about a year ago, after coming out as nonbinary, they joined the sorority Chi Omega because of the group’s engagement in service and for the fellowship that membership brings.

Their journey to join Chi Omega started after Guzman experienced a traumatic incident while serving as a resident advisor. They sought refuge with some of their friends who were members of Chi Omega. The sisters invited Guzman to stay with them as they recovered from the incident while the sisters comforted them. Guzman says that kindness convinced them that joining the sorority would fill a void in their life.

Guzman explains that sorority sisters locally embraced them with open arms after Guzman completed the rush process like any other prospective member would.

After being accepted into Chi Omega, Guzman says they thrived in the organization and even took up a leadership role because of their love for it.

“I was actually the recruitment chair of my chapter, and I was putting a lot of effort into it. And because of it, my school wanted to show and highlight my experience by writing a story for the magazine,” says Guzman. “And in that moment, Chi Omega took back all the claims of inclusivity and basically took a very transphobic approach where they invalidated my nonbinaryness and my identification with women and womanhood just by not being female assigned at birth.”

The sharp change of acceptance left Guzman stunned and disappointed.

“After they promised me and allowed me and also knew me as recruitment chair, they just took this approach,” Guzman says. “They first told me that they were going to honor my membership as long as I did not go public because they were afraid of the Kappa Kappa Gamma lawsuit that is happening right now.”

That lawsuit is from seven cisgender women in the organization who argued against having a trans sister. The sorority, however, defended allowing a transgender woman into its University of Wyoming chapter, saying that the chapter followed sorority rules.

Seven Kappa Kappa Gamma members sued the sorority at Wyoming’s only four-year state university after the group admitted transgender sister Artemis Langford last year. Six women refiled their lawsuit in May after a judge twice barred them from suing anonymously.

Chi Omega is taking a different approach entirely.

Chi Omega’s chief marketing officer Nancy Morkovsky sent The Advocate a statement on behalf of the organization in response to a list of questions. Although she did not answer any of them, she stated that Guzman was never eligible to join the sorority in the first place.

“In accordance with our governing documents, Chi Omega’s Executive Headquarters recently made the decision to void the membership of an Epsilon Kappa Chapter member at St. Lawrence University,” Morkovsky wrote. “By their own admission, this individual did not meet the criteria for membership at the time of joining. Chi Omega is committed to providing opportunities for friendship, personal growth, and development amongst women from a variety of backgrounds who live and reflect the values of Chi Omega.”

Morkovsky did not respond to a follow-up message asking for clarification and further explanation.

Guzman responds to the statement with indignation. They say they made no admissions because they were not involved in the conversations about being permitted into the organization in the first place.

“[Chi Omega] should acknowledge that their policy was vague, they opened the term ‘women’ to allow trans women and nonbinary folks, and now they are using the vagueness of their policy to be transphobic and invalidate my identity after nationals were the ones who said yes to my chapter’s executive board and Greek advisor.”

Guzman says they are launching a virtual signature campaign to pressure Chi Omega to reconsider its membership decision.

They say the sisters in their chapter continue to support them.

“I’ve also received a lot of positive feedback on social media,” Guzman says.

They posted a video on Instagram explaining their situation.

Guzman says that from what they understand, the national organization will likely go to its convention next year to adjust the language around who may join.

“It’s very sad because it looks like the only path that they are taking is to go to the convention in 2024 and try to appeal for changing the policy wording because right now the policy is basically open up to interpretation in what women means and that was the reason why I was able to get in the first place. They were like, ‘if you identify with women and you identify with the values, we are no one to ask questions about it,” Guzman says.

“We really thought that we were moving towards opening a new door for different people, and we thought all together that we were making a change,” they add.

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