Brown University sororities welcome transgender, transitioning women

Sororities at Brown University are making room for men who identify as women. (WJAR)

Sororities at Brown University are welcoming transgender students.

That means transgender and transitioning students can now join.

"When I came to college, I really wanted to have girlfriends that I could trust no matter what," said Sophie Blistein, a Brown University Senior.

Blistein said nothing is perfect, but a sorority gave her that community. She wanted more people to have the same experience.

So, she used her position on Brown University's Panhellenic Council to make it so anyone who identified as a woman could join its sororities.

The Panhellenic Council represents three sororities on campus, including Kappa Delta, Alpha Chi Omega, as well as Kappa Alpha Theta.

"Sororities have always had this problem of being non-inclusive," Blistein said. "I thought this was one thing that we could really tackle."

Brown University is known for being inclusive. In 2012, the Huffington Post spotlighted it for being LGBTQ friendly.

"This is the next great step we're taking," said Allie Greenberg, a sophomore majoring in English and non-fiction writing.

Greenberg and Nicole Kaufmann are both members of the Kappa Delta Sorority.

"I think it's just mirroring the movement that's been going on," Kaufmann said. "It's like the civil rights movement. It's like the gay rights movement. I think this is the next frontier."

Blistein said all three sororities had to approve the changes before the council made a decision last week. They go into effect immediately. It's just in time for recruitment, which begins this month.

Women on the Council said sorority hopefuls do not have to identify the sex they were born. All they have to list is their legal name and their preferred name.

"I don't know lots and lots about the trans community," said Blistein. "I'm still learning every single day and it's been a great learning experience for me. Even people who are born one way, however they want to present themselves to the world, they deserve to do that and to enjoy every privilege of the people that they really are."

If everyone in the Greek world doesn't support the idea, but Blistein said individual councils have the right to amend local rules and regulations.

Learn more about the Brown Panhellenic Council by clicking here. For more information about registration for Spring Sorority Recruitment, click here.

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