“What’s the password?” — it’s a question found in spy stories, but the idea now applies to a plethora of societal situations.
For instance, if a male solicits admittance to a female locker room, the password may be “I am a woman.” But if the submitted words lack adequacy, welcome will elude the seeker.
That sort of scenario seems to have played out at New York’s private St. Lawrence University, where a hopeful student came up calamitously short. Last fall, 22-year-old biological male Fabián “Fa” Guzmán rushed for membership to a ladies-only sorority. Subsequently, the senior was accepted into famed female club Chi Omega.
Speaking recently to The 19th News, Fa reminisced on the rapture of his induction:
“The feeling of happiness was indescribable because, for me, honestly, I always felt attracted to the idea of being part of a sorority, but I never thought it was going to be possible. To receive that call and hear them say, ‘You’re a part of us and you’re able to join’ was one of the happiest days of my life.”
Neck-deep in Chi Omega, Fa’s status was swiftly erected. Per 19thNews.org, “[G]uzmán was a beloved sister, slated to be the recruitment chair.” But the womanly bond would soon be whacked. And it started with the school wanting to frame Fa as an emblem of feminine success:
In the spring of 2023, the St. Lawrence alumni magazine was set to run a story about Guzmán’s leadership on campus. Not only was Guzmán the first nonbinary student to rush and pledge a sorority at the university, but [he] had almost immediately risen to a leadership position in [his] sorority. Guzmán reached out to Chi Omega’s national office to let them know, following Chi Omega’s policy to get approval before naming the organization in any outside media.
The situation snagged upper-management’s attention. Not long after, Chi Omega kicked out Fa. As it turns out, the organization offers only two eligibility avenues:
[O]n June 2, [Fa was] notified via email that [his] membership would be voided immediately with no chance for an appeal.
“The selection criteria in the policy on membership includes ‘females and individuals identifying as women,’ which, by the chapter’s own understanding and your indication through the process, it is clear you did not meet the criteria at the time of joining,” the email read. “We are bound by our governing documents, and your membership must be voided.”
That secured a fail for Fa, as the student is not just a woman, but also a man:
Guzmán describes themselves as gender fluid, meaning that they identify as a woman within their gender identity. Their identification with womanhood as a concept was not only what made them want to be a part of a sorority, but led them to believe that under Chi Omega’s policies, they were fully within their rights to be included as a member.
Today, Guzmán feels confused and hurt.
“I’m able to connect with women and womanhood, why is there any issue for me to not be able to join?” Guzmán wondered. “I don’t identify solely as male, I’m just here being both at the same time.”
If only Fa had said he was merely a ma’am.
[Respectfully, in lieu of the pronoun “they” — which may confuse readers due to its indication of multiple individuals — this article’s use of pronouns arbitrarily errs on the dual-identifying subject’s scrotal side.]
The Greek system suffers growing pains…
— Alex Parker (@alexparker1984) July 1, 2023
To add insult to gender-identity injury, Fa figures he had initially scored a win for nonwhites:
What had once felt like “this great opportunity for the nonbinary and trans community to just feel included in these spaces that stereotypically are only for cisgender White women who are rich” now has become an experience laced with pain, they said. But Guzmán and their fellow sisters aren’t giving up.
Alas, at present moment, the erstwhile Chi-O is KO’d. Yet, there is hope — Fa has fashioned a Change.org petition. In it, he bashes Big Greek’s bigotry:
Chi Omega’s reactionary void of my membership was blatant transphobia and bigotry. They fill their organization with hollow messages of inclusivity and equality while enacting unbiased policies of hate through an improperly structured organizational hierarchy. Additionally, I find their decision to void my membership during Pride Month intentional. Let’s remember that we, non-binary and trans folks, are not existing with the purpose to make Greek life co-ed or invade safe spaces. On the contrary, we want to feel we belong by joining a group that aligns with our gender identity and where we feel supported and validated.
As pointed out by Fa, Chi Omega’s creed craps on pomposity:
To live constantly above snobbery of word or deed…
Was Fa’s snub snobby? Surely many will deem it so. And to those, he is asking for aid:
Please help me spread the word about Chi Omega and the anti-LGBTQIA+ policies that they have intentionally enacted during Pride Month 2023, and hopefully together raise our voices to create inclusive change.
Myriad voices might well get raised. As a result, will he be reinstated? Will Chi Omega update its policy to include students who say they’re 99-percent-or-less women? Only time will tell. But if the past few years of social evolution are any indication, the part-lady, part-gentleman crowd has a magnificent chance of manhandling nonbinary discrimination as America’s future sorority girls.