Chapman University student Addie Vincent had hoped that she would be the first transgender woman to be initiated into a sorority within her college’s Greek system. But things changed after she was cut from the process after the second day of rush.
With many friends involved in the Greek life at Chapman, Vincent felt confident about her chances. But when she learned she would be unable to fulfill her dream of joining a sisterhood, Vincent was crushed.
“I went into the weekend with a lot of confidence and support, and I was so sure that I would come out of the process as a sister,” Vincent told 429Magazine. “When I was cut on the second night, I have to admit I was disappointed and upset. I was mostly disappointed with myself because I felt like I let down my supporters.”
Vincent says she wanted to join a sorority for the camaraderie. “I really wanted to have a home away from home, a group of friends that I can call family, and a sisterhood offers exactly that.”
However, with one door closed, Vincent was determined to open another.
She now plans to start a chapter of Theta Pi Sigma: Chapman University’s first gender-neutral all-inclusive “frarority.” The first chapter was established at University of California, Santa Cruz in 2005.
“It will be very exciting for our community, and hopefully we can collaborate with traditional Greek chapters on campus to create change,” said Vincent.
While her original goal of joining a sisterhood was not met, Vincent harbors no regrets or resentment, and says she is grateful to those who helped her along the way.
“I received supportive messages from sorority sisters and other Chapman students informing me of the outstanding support from Greek Life and Chapman behind the scenes to get me in. I am beyond grateful and appreciative of those who spoke for me when I couldn’t and fought for me when it counted the most.”
It is unclear who was ultimately responsible for the decision to turn Vincent away. Either it came from the Chapman sorority chapters, or from National Panhellenic Conference (NPC) administrators.
According to Vincent, sisters and Chapman University staff contacted the NPC, urging them to allow her to join a sisterhood. In the end, Vincent was told she could not join due to NPC bylaws.
“NPC was calling Chapman asking about my gender and my sex and very intimate details,” Vincent told her university paper, The Panther. “Administration and staff wouldn’t release the information, because they said I should be treated like any other woman.”
A GoFundMe account has been set up to help Theta Pi Sigma achieve its financial needs. Vincent has currently raised $470 of the $2,000 goal.
“Donations and contributions will be used to fund Theta Pi Sigma’s founding costs, events, and fundraisers,” says Vincent. “Every little bit will count!”
The frarority will be open to students of all background, including gender, sex, gender expression, and sexual orientation, with a colonization goal of Spring 2014.
Vincent’s own journey of gender identity began in 2011.
“My transition process began during Fall 2011…I dabbled around with cross-dressing and drag, and because I enjoyed it and received an incredible amount of support…I figured that I’d go on a journey of gender identity. Since then, I’ve been in drag shows, replaced my entire wardrobe, and even changed my name.”
Vincent remains an inspiration to many, and her desire to join a sorority ignited much debate about gender identity and gender inclusion not only on her campus, but nationwide. Now, with the establishment of an all-inclusive frarority, Vincent is improving the lives for current and future university students everywhere.
And it seems she has big plans for after graduation as well.
“I’ve seriously thought about joining the Peace Corps or an international non-profit organization,” says Vincent. “In the long-run, I see a few different paths for myself: US lobbyist, international mediator, founder of a non-profit organization, or spokesperson for the Trans* community at large.
“Recently, I started up FeminisTotes: totebags that are hand-painted with feminist quotes and sayings.”
Some of the included phrases are, “This bag will not carry any of your beauty standards,” and “This is what a feminist looks like.” Or there’s my favorite: “There’s no room in this bag for your patriarchal shit.”
“I am forever grateful to have each and every one of you as my friend, ally, and even as my sister,” Vincent wrote on the fundraiser page. “Keep on fighting!”