On December 3rd, Campus Pride and the Lambda 10 Project announced the release of a resource guide to raise awareness of transgender students and the issues they face within the Greek system of campus life. The goal of the new guide is to educate Greeks on their trans pledges, trans members, and trans alums, and to offer resources on navigating a system that remains segregated by legally documented sex.
The first of its kind, "Beginning the Conversation: Fraternity & Sorority Transgender Resource Guide" was given to Greek leaders at the Association of Fraternity Advisors Annual Meeting in Denver on December 4th. And while its co-authors Jessica Pettitt and Sarah Fielding concede many of "the answers aren't provided nor are they known" when it comes to accommodating a range of gender expressions and identities within sororities and fraternities with strict legally-sexed policies, I found the guide to be a solid start on beginning that conversation.
Broken down into three sections, the guide first works to help the Greek community understand "Trans 101" definitions. It then tackles common issues faced by trans students on campus. Finally, the guide challenges the Greek system to create positive change for trans brothers and sisters within Greek communities.
The most compelling reading in "Beginning the Conversation" was provided by letters written by trans Greeks themselves. (All of them on the FTM spectrum, by the way. Try as they may, the authors couldn't find a trans woman willing to contribute a testimonial.)
These first-person accounts spoke movingly of the affirmations of brotherhood, of masculinity provided by the Frat. To those of us determined to upturn the masculinist status quo, the idea of trans assimilation into the very belly of the beast may seem off-putting. Much like the rush to embrace traditional marriage or join the army. But we all know changing the system happens from within and without, over much time, and that securing equal access has value in countless real ways. So putting arguments aside about the pros and cons of Greekdom (which the authors take pains to de-stereotype), I recommend reading a few of the letters from trans frat brothers. They are powerful and honest in describing what students feel they get from Greek life; when, if and why they choose or choose not to disclose their transness; and the acceptance or rejection they've encountered along the way.
For those who work in higher education, in Greek or campus leadership, or with trans or gender variant students, "Beginning the Conversation" will keep you from reinventing the wheel by providing resources and model policies. The idea of transgender fraternity brothers and sorority sisters was new to me, but I'm very glad that Campus Pride and the Lambda 10 Project began the conversation.