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Published On: Wed, Jan 25th, 2017

Northwestern University faces Transgender controversy as transgender woman, now a man Adam Davies, seeks to join sorority

The transgender movement gets more complicated as a female Northwestern University freshman who recently came out as male now seeks to join a sorority. Adam Davies says he was drawn to the tenets of Greek life — philanthropy, bonding and leadership — but that with his changing body he might not feel comfortable living in a fraternity.

Davies, 18, will present a new challenge to the gender fluidity arguments as HE seeks sisterhood of a sorority instead.

“I guess I see it on a level that transcends the gender binary,” said Davies, of Appleton, Wis.

While many international sororities have in the last few years adopted language to better include transgender women, this was among the first instances in which an openly transgender man participated in Panhellenic Recruitment, according to the organization’s national conference based in Indianapolis, which covers 26 social sororities on more than 670 campuses around the world.

Adam Davies photo/Facebook

Northwestern officials believe this is likely the first case of its kind at the university.

No sorority extended Davies a bid and Davies said he’s disappointed he won’t experience a candlelight ceremony, wear Greek letters or have a mentoring relationship with an older sorority member.

“The vibe was — as far as I could tell — we would love to have you, but we can’t,” Davies said.

“Student Affairs staff explained what he might expect based on national organizations’ bylaws, with the information we had available at that time,” university spokesman said Alan Cubbage in an email, adding that Northwestern has no authority over any sorority’s membership decisions.

Davies said he was transparent throughout the recruitment process. He said he felt welcomed at all of the houses and described his talks with members as deep and introspective, often delving into the nature of feminism.

“I made it very clear that I was a transgender man,” he said. “Because I’m not afraid of who I am.”

While Title IX prohibits sex discrimination in education, the federal government has declared social fraternities and sororities exempt and free to make their own membership decisions, including those based on gender identity.

“Those organizations are therefore permitted under Title IX to set their own policies regarding the sex, including the gender identity, of their members,” according to a May 13 letter regarding transgender students issued by the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division and the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights. “Nothing in Title IX prohibits a fraternity from admitting transgender men or a sorority from admitting transgender women if it so chooses.”

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About the Author

- Catherine "Kaye" Wonderhouse, a proud descendant of the Wunderhaus family is the Colorado Correspondent who will add more coverage, interviews and reports from this midwest area.

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