My story this week, “Menace to Sorority,” about a transgender man’s sorority trouble, touched about a hundred nerves. You can read all the comments on the story here. Below, choice perspectives from Greek life, GLBT theory, and innocent bystanders:
I am gay male and a member of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc. I understand Alston-Smith’s frustration with wanting to be accepted as transgender and I think it takes a brave person to choose to live the life that he has chosen to live. I, too, had a terrible undergraduate experience as a new initiate of the fraternity
I was not “out” and did not put myself “out there”, nor did I expect to be accepted as a member of the frat who is a gay male. I wanted to be accepted a Brother. However, the members’ perception of what they thought my sexual orientation was and their response to this is what made my undergraduate experience unfortunate. I dare not go into details but even in the midst of this, I worked hard to prove that I was worthy of membership and that I would “herald and defend even agaist the world.” While I don’t share a brotherly relationship with some of the brothers, including my line brothers, I never let that affect my love for the fraternity and my deep conviction in the fraternity’s principles. As such, I value my gifts that represent Sigma and I would never (and will never) destroy or part with my Fraternity paraphernalia. Phi Beta Sigma is much bigger than two or three individuals who have a flawed perception of what Brotherhood truly is. Which is why, even though I share Alston-Smith’s frustration and I bear the same cross, I don’t agree with his last act of destroying his Zeta paraphernalia. If he couldn’t hold on to anything else from this situation, he should’ve had the courage to hold on to his organizational symbols and memorabilia. He earned the right have them and he too, should’ve protected and guarded them with his life. To him, Zeta should’ve been bigger than those girls on that campus. I question whether he truly loved Zeta Phi Beta Sorority from the beginning and whether his decision to seek and accept membership in the organization came from his heart. However, I do hope this situation gets rectified fairly and I hope that he will be able to find peace of mind in the end.
“God grant me the SERENITY to accept the things I cannot change, the COURAGE to change the things I can, and the WISDOM to know the difference.”
Some of my fellow Greeks are embarassing me greatly here. There is no way that you can be committed to the ideals of your organization and still speak so rudely about Devin, whether you agree with him or not. I do not agree with his choice, as Ive stated, but I do not see any reason to speak of him as a “freak” or any other derogatory term. You cannot effectively serve your community if you don’t respect its members (and Im talking about community as a whole, not the Greek community).
Just as the ladies of ZPhiB at my alma mater were concerned about their image, so should you be. Please, at least control your intolerance, bigotry, and insensitivity on this VERY public forum.
I believe the gender theory subscribed to by those in the GLBT community is that gender is not a dichotomy but rather a sliding scale, where a person can be more feminine or less, but not just one or the other. That’s how Devin would prefer to dress and use the same pronouns as a male, but still feel some kinship and enjoy the company of women.
Devin would likely not have joind the sorority if he had not felt that the older sisters welcomed him and accepted him. It was a choice perhaps not everyone would have made, but the choice, according to DC law, was his to make.
Justin, 2009/02/18 at 3:55 PM:
I don’t feel confused. He knew he wouldn’t get into a fraternity but wanted in something. The sisters were friendly and welcoming at first. He probably thought they would bend the “finer womanhood” rules in his case..not far fetched with understanding people. He probably also knew that if they tried to throw the book at him they’d win, but he didn’t want it to come to that. Maybe was a bad call and too big of a gamble (to join). Plus sororities are lame. Good luck to Devin and transcripts bitch McGhee.
As a member of the GLBTQ community and well versed in gender theory (and queer theory for you Wilchins fans out there), I, for the most part, agree with the ’small minded’ ones. Although I don’t think we can accurately speculate on Devin’s motivations, this does look like more of a case intended for political controversy rather than a genuine desire to stay in an organization that rejected him. Just like an organization intended for transgendered males does not want those who are not trans males attending their meetings, sororities have the right to not want a person who identifies as male in their organization when they are an all female group. However, it sounds like the sorority genuinely did not know that Devin intended to transition to being male; it looks more like Devin made the final decision on his transition while he was already in the sorority, and when he joined, he was probably unsure if he would transition. Once recognizing that he was male, he should have sat down and had a discussion with the sorority leaders and decided what the appropriate choice was in order to do what’s best for all parties involved. If the sisters who made him feel comfortable graduated, then where was the incentive to stay in a group for kinship? Staying was a move to buck the system. I don’t agree some of the harsher mudslinging above, but this is a one-sided article plagued by hearsay and this situation is clearly much more complicated than the article conveys.