29 Mar Delta Phi Epsilon Sorority, the First to Welcome Non-Binary Members, Rallies Support for Universal Policy Change
Alexa Lamanna, West End Strategy Team
Delta Phi Epsilon Sorority, the First to Welcome Non-Binary Members, Rallies Support for Universal Policy Change
National Panhellenic Conference to introduce policy amendment in April, allowing each sorority to define “woman-only” as they choose, which allows for inclusion of non-binary individuals
PHILADELPHIA – Delta Phi Epsilon Sorority (DPhiE), an international social sorority that was the first — and remains the only — to establish a membership policy welcoming both transgender women and non-binary individuals, is calling on fellow sororities to follow suit and become more inclusive.
On April 10, the 26 member organizations of the sorority umbrella organization, the National Panhellenic Conference (NPC), will have the opportunity to vote to adopt a proposed policy change that if enacted, will allow each sovereign member sorority to define “woman” however they choose. This change would pave the way for non-binary, as well as transgender individuals, to be considered for membership within participating sororities.
DPhiE’s Trans Woman and Non-Binary Gender Policy, established in 2017, is the only existing recruitment policy to explicitly invite non-binary individuals to pursue membership. The forthcoming introduction of an amendment to NPC’s Panhellenic Recruitment Eligibility policy will support DPhiE’s policy and allow for other member organizations to adopt parallel policies.
“Delta Phi Epsilon applauds NPC for introducing a proposed change that has the potential to open up sorority membership on campuses across North America to people who are committed to the advancement of womanhood,” said Roxanne Donovan, international president of the Delta Phi Epsilon Sorority International Governing Board. ”We hope all our fellow NPC member organizations will vote to adopt it. As an organization guided by our founding principles of justice, sisterhood and love, and committed to anti-discrimination practices, Delta Phi Epsilon established our gender policy to respond proactively to the evolving gender binary and what we were seeing on our campuses. The policy has been rewarding for our members and aligns with our values and purpose. Our founders formed DPhiE with the purpose of accepting all races and religions, and with the motto, ‘Esse Quam Videri’ — ‘To be, rather than to seem to be.’ We live our values, and we welcome members to come as they are, be true to themselves and find a sense of belonging within our sisterhood.”
DPhiE’s Trans Woman and Non-Binary Gender policy reads: “As the public understanding and definition of gender identity and expression evolves, so must our understanding and definition of what makes a person eligible for inclusion in sisterhood. We believe this policy continues our long legacy of leadership relating to our commitment to sisterhood itself.
“The purpose of this policy is to establish an environment that is safe, free from stigma and discrimination, and welcoming for all potential new members, sisters, volunteers and staff, regardless of sexual orientation or gender expression.
“Delta Phi Epsilon is dedicated to the empowerment of all women. This necessarily includes our being welcoming and inclusion of trans women and gender non-binary individuals.”
After DPhiE enacted its policy, NPC questioned whether it might impact Title IX exemption status, ultimately concluding this year that the concern was unfounded. NPC’s proposed amendment updates recruitment eligibility language to state that each member organization “determines its own membership selection policies and procedures, including its definition of woman,” which opens the door for all member organizations to consider welcoming non-binary members.
“As a non-binary person, I had absolutely no intention of joining a sorority because I thought that the Greek life system was outdated and harmful in its reinforcement of cisheteronormativity and the gender binary. But when I heard that DPhiE was explicitly non-binary-inclusive at the international level, I became intrigued and decided to give it a chance,” said Kelly Chen, a member of DPhiE at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where they are a senior. “Joining DPhiE was one of the best decisions I’ve made as an undergrad. I found an incredibly supportive community in my chapter, without which my MIT experience would have been very different. I never would have joined DPhiE without the trans woman and nonbinary inclusion policy. Policies like ours allow people like me to strengthen and be strengthened by Greek life communities.”
Added Nicole DeFeo, Delta Phi Epsilon International Executive Director, “Delta Phi Epsilon is proud of the leadership efforts we have undertaken that have contributed to the larger fraternal community in bringing policies into the present. We firmly believe that if NPC’s amendment is adopted, it will promote the development of more equitable and inclusive sorority communities on college and university campuses in the US and Canada. We hope our fellow members of NPC will see this change as an opportunity to join Delta Phi Epsilon in ensuring the Panhellenic community is a place where all feel comfortable being their true, authentic selves.”
DPhiE leadership, as well as current undergraduate members and recent alumni, are available for interview. Please reach out to Alexa Lamanna at email@example.com or 202-320-2766 to be connected.
About Delta Phi Epsilon, Inc.
Delta Phi Epsilon Sorority was founded on March 17, 1917, at New York University Law School as a social organization for women. Its mission is to provide a sisterhood experience rich with tradition, innovation and opportunities for growth.