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2.20.2009

Commentary...

And here we are again. I had a post in mind, and now I'm doing this because of an e-mail I got.

I always say to myself "you could do more than one post a day" and I intend to, but time constraints and the fact that we all can see I like to be long-winded makes that a little harder to do. In fact, I think the real reason I'm on twitter is to force myself to be concise sometimes.

The article I recieved in an e-mail is rather long, but I highly recommend reading it through. Here's the link: (I would normally post the text, but like I said it's long, and I'm long by myself.) :)

Menace to Sorority

Here's a (my) summary:

Chanise Alton-Smith was born female, but identifies as a male. As a result, he prefers to be called Devin and referred to using male pronouns. He attended George Washington University and had never been interested in sororities. However a senior member of Zeta Phi Beta continued to approach him and encourage him to attend their functions and get to know the sorority and it's members. He did, and he liked the sorority and so he joined. There are some instances mentioned where it became clear that his sisters didn't understand the identity issue and so, according to the article, he tried to be understanding and compromising even when they asked him to wear feminine shoes and things of the like. After he was officially accepted into the sorority, the older members who seemed to "get it" graduated and the new "administration" seemed more intent on fighting Devin's wishes to be recognized as male. They wouldn't allow him to wear male shoes to events and at official Zeta Phi Beta rush events, they would refer to him as "she" to potential members. Eventually, Devin was notified that his status as a member had been changed to inactive because he turned in a transcript late. He became depressed and eventually withdrew from the school, after destroying his paraphanalia and returning it to his former sisters.

The article details some of the specific things they did to him (which is why you should absolutely read it) that were clearly meant to make him feel uncomfortable and force him to be something he did not identify as. I think the article quotes one of his older sisters as saying "it's time for you to start acting like a woman..."

Of course, my first question was, why would he, since he identifies as male, join a sorority? GWU's discriminatory rules essentially say that a fraternity had the right to deny Devin admission because he was born a female, but a sorority could not deny him admission because he identifies as male. But I still wonder... Zeta Phi Beta has a commitment to 3 things, one of which is Finer Womanhood. Anyonoe remotely aware of the sorority knows that. Clearly womanhood doesn't apply to Devin and so again, I wonder...

And then I read the comments where someone made a good point: when the members of ZPhiB approached Devin and recruited him and then allowed him to participate in their intake process, they, at least, implied they understood his situation and were willing to be accomodating. And it should be highlighted that the girls who essentially forced him out were NOT the ones who recruited him. My concern is that not enough was done to explain to everyone Devin's situation and how it would be best handled.

I just think a lot of wrong decisions were made by both sides. The sorority members are portrayed in the article as callous and uncaring. The university didn't participate in the article so their stance, outside of what is publicly available (i.e. the rules governing discrimination) is unclear and the national sorority's opinion is also missing.

So I'm very interested in what you guys think...

1 comment:

Tamara said...

Wow. My little sister pledged zphib and I have seen all sororities do some unbelievable stuff. In my opinion, looking at my sis's experience, the only people you can really depend on in a sorority are your line sisters and the people who bring your line over. I am not surprised the other members eventually pushed him out. It is unfortunate and shows there ignorance though; many of the recent pledges at one school are lesbians or male gender identified.

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