Fraternities, sororities, and other social organizations in siblinghood that look to be trans inclusive must be clear on who can attain and maintain membership within their organization. It is important that each organization considering a trans inclusive policy recognize four guiding principles:
- A policy change is only one part of a trans inclusive culture. A trans inclusive policy helps interested and current members understand the inter/national position on who within the trans community is eligible for membership. To create a trans inclusive organization, a policy must be paired with an ongoing education plan to encourage best practices for chapters, volunteers, and staff in welcoming and empowering trans members.
- A successful policy provides definitions and explanations. A trans inclusive policy provides a clearly outlined set of terminology that distinguishes concepts and experiences relevant to trans members. This should include terms that clarify gender identity and expression. In addition, a trans inclusive policy should be able to provide interested and current members a clear statement of intent that trans members will be accepted during recruitment, as undergraduates (and graduates, if applicable), and throughout lifelong membership.
- A successful policy makes trans inclusion accessible. Across the nation, guidance, policies, and laws vary on how a trans person can and must name themselves. A trans inclusive policy names that self-declaration is sufficient. No legal or medical documents are necessary to verify a potential or current member’s gender status.
- Policies must be readily accessible to all audiences. A trans inclusive policy should be accessible to anyone and everyone. Public availability of a trans inclusive policy ensures that the organization is held accountable by their membership as well as the communities that they are a part of. Policies should also be provided and discussed among membership on a routine basis, including at leadership development experiences and member trainings.
The following policies (crafted for example purposes) is an example of an inclusive policy:
Alpha Alpha Alpha Fraternity Trans Inclusive Policy
Given the ever-changing culture of higher education, Alpha Alpha Alpha Fraternity finds itself reviewing how inclusive we are and want to be. We have noticed the increased visibility of the transgender community, and our membership has prompted whether or not we intend to be trans inclusive.
Whereas Alpha Alpha Alpha Fraternity is a brotherhood among gentlemen,
Whereas Alpha men are diverse in experience and identity,
Whereas Alpha men will press forward in an ever changing world,
Be it resolved: Alpha Alpha Alpha Fraternity is committed to the advancement of brotherhood among gentlemen, and will press forward on creating the truest sense of brotherhood among all men. Therefore, those who self-identify as men are welcome to membership in the organization, and those who have joined as men that may no longer identify as such are welcome to stay if they so choose.
This resolution serves as both our statement of intent to press forward as a trans inclusive organization, as well as our policy on trans inclusion. The international headquarter staff and volunteers will provide education at the regional and chapter levels on what a trans inclusive brotherhood should be, from recruitment through lifelong membership.
Should any current or interested member, or their community, be interested in more direct information about trainings, best practices, and reporting structures, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Gamma Gamma Gamma Sorority Trans Inclusive Policy
Gamma Gamma Gamma Sorority is dedicated to the advancement of womanhood. We firmly believe that this is inclusive of transgender students. For this reason, we have developed a policy that provides guidance on the inclusion of transgender members before becoming and once a member of Tri Gamma.
We demonstrate our commitment to the advancement of womanhood by offering the following definitions, ensuring that our interested members, current members, and lifelong members understand the language we use and hold us accountable to our progress.
- Cisgender – a person whose sex designated at birth and gender identity align. An example of this is a person designated male at birth that identifies as a man.
- Transgender – a person whose sex designated at birth and gender identity do not align. This may include men, women, and nonbinary people. An example of this is a person designated female at birth that identifies as a man.
- Gender Identity – a person’s self-determined identity related to the concepts of man and woman, which may or may not align with either concept. Examples of gender identities include man, woman, nonbinary, and agender.
- Gender Expression – how a person chooses to be identified based on their clothing, behaviors, and pronouns. A person’s gender expression may be masculine, feminine, and/or androgynous.
It is of the utmost importance that all women of Tri Gamma have a clear understanding that the chapter may extend membership to those that identify as women. This currently means that identities outside of this should not be extended membership into our organization.
- Women will always be considered, regardless of other identities the (potential) member holds. This is inclusive of cisgender women and transgender women.
- Identities that may be considered for membership include nonbinary, gender nonconforming, or agender individuals that are committed to the advancement of womanhood.
- Identities that will not be considered regardless of belief in womanhood are cisgender men, what we define as a person designated male at birth and identify as a man.
No member is required to provide documentation regarding their gender. We welcome all women as they self-identify. Additionally, all gender expressions of students extended membership are welcome in Tri Gamma. Formal attire is still a component of some aspects of the organization, and options for formal outfits will be provided prior to the events.
We as an international organization understand that not all current members may understand gender identity and expression different from presentations by cisgender women. Therefore, we intend to provide education on concepts and issues within gender identity and gender expression. Below we’ve provided our plan of action for education and opportunities for general input:
International Staff Education – we have and will continue to engage the international executive board and the staff at our headquarters office on best practices related to trans inclusion in the organization.
Chapter Leadership Training – the regional and international leadership retreats will include sessions that offer various levels of education on trans experiences and how leaders can increase their knowledge and support of trans members
Regional Presentations – the regional leadership will coordinate with chapter presidents on a semesterly chapter presentation regarding the best practices for a trans inclusive chapter.
Routine Updates – the international organization will release a regular membership-wide update on the progress of trans inclusion within the organization, as well as offer chapters and regions opportunities to provide feedback on existing and future efforts
Laws and Policies – the international organization will provide region-specific guidance on how to navigate state laws and institution policies
These recommendations were developed by the steering committee and working group of the Lambda 10 Project – the National Clearinghouse for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Fraternity & Sorority Issues. Learn more about the Lambda 10 Project and Greek life resource for LGBTQ members.