“You have to give the individual a chance. Sometimes, you never know what kind of great person you’re going to run into. If you deny (them), just because they don’t look like you do or don’t identify fully as you do, or they’re not your ideal woman or your ideal man, it’s always good to be open-minded.”
Those words could apply to a lot of things, couldn’t they? Dating, friendship… and in this case, fraternity membership. The words — good life advice for all of us — are those of Beasa Dukes, a bigender and biologically female student who recently received a bid into the Phi Mu Delta fraternity at Longwood University.
I must admit, “bigender” was a new term to me as I read Dukes’ story. Dukes herself defines it as “not identifying as solely male or female, and describes herself as a woman and transmasculine agender person,” according The Rotunda Online. “I don’t fully identify as a woman. I don’t fully identify as a man.”
Daniel Parrish, Phi Mu Delta’s president, said that the chapter looks beyond gender identification when looking for perspective members. He told the paper, “The way we look at it is as long as this person has outstanding moral character, why shouldn’t they join our organization? To me, it was about this person’s moral character and how they are and the values they hold.”
And for those that are worried about fraternities’ status as single sex organizations when it comes to admitting transgender members? Parrish isn’t concerned. “Nationals, I believe it was in 2011, wrote a whole document that was backed by lawyers and everything, involving Title IX and making sure that this didn’t become a co-ed organization and remained a fraternity, but that people who identify as male are still eligible for this, because again, we kind of look more at the character and who they are as a person.”
Dukes says that her fraternity experience has helped her find a home at Longwood. “I think everyone needs a place to belong, and everyone needs some place that makes them feel, I hate to say the term ‘normal’, but the way in which society kind of superimposes anything that’s not binary or anything that’s gender non-conforming or trans, they think of it as ‘freakish’, kind of like almost so abnormal and abstract that it makes them uncomfortable, which in turn makes us uncomfortable,” Dukes toldthe paper.
But that wasn’t the case at PMD, she says. “As far as joining a fraternity, I had to test the waters as to how they perceived my own gender and if they were okay with it. That’s why Chad asked, because that’s something I’m just like, well technically, I’m not really a guy, but I am in a certain sense but you know, not really. So it’s kind of like, is there a way for me?….I’m always contemplating how (others would perceive) me. But what really sold me is that before they actually do the bids, they have little gatherings and meetings and stuff like that. People thinking about joining come to these gatherings and interact with all the other brothers. So it was something that was really nice, really cool, and really open. They’re really open-minded individuals.”
As for how Dukes’ membership has affected PMD? Not much, according to Parrish: “To us, it’s still another day in the fraternity. It hasn’t changed essentially much, other than how we look on campus. But within the fraternity, it won’t change much. ‘B’ (Beasa) is still seen as another brother.”
Sounds like this is a pretty special brotherhood to me..
[via The Rotunda Online]
Image via The Rotunda Online