Transgender acceptance and inclusivity, probably the predominant hot-button topic of 2015, has officially made its way into one of the most tradition-centric and exclusive networks of men in our country. American fraternities, widely perceived as an outdated good ol’ boy club stuck in its ways, made history recently.
By a unanimous vote of those in attendance, the Sigma Phi Epsilon National Board of Directors have officially opened up membership to people who identify as transgender.
Student Director Sawyer J. Hicks explains that the fraternity is built “on the brotherhood and fellowship of men,” and this should no longer exclude those who self-identify as men, regardless of the gender they were given at birth.
Grand Secretary Richard W. Bennet III emphasized the need for chapters to be leaders and to take a individual stance on the issue. He encouraged the Headquarters staff to play a supporting role by helping chapters understand the issues and create a welcoming environment.
Grand President Cox asked for a motion to approve the policy recommended by Counsel.
Student Director Sawyer J. Hicks moved to approve the adoption of the following policy regarding transgender inclusivity:
“Sigma Phi Epsilon is a national Fraternity built on the brotherhood and fellowship of men. Any individual who identifies as a man is welcome to seek membership in the Fraternity. This policy is intended to uphold the mission of Sigma Phi Epsilon as a fellowship of men and should not be interpreted as changing the all-male character of the Fraternity or as a waiver of the Fraternity’s exempt status under Title IX.”
Seconded by Director Garry C. Kief.
Grand President Cox asked for discussion and Director Kief asked for a full definition of the terminology to be used.
The motion passed by an 8-0 majority vote with three abstentions.
The term transgender describes a person “whose self-identity does not conform unambiguously to conventional notions of male or female gender.”
It will be interesting to see which organizations follow suit..