Northwestern University is facing an interesting controversy that captures the new reality for schools in dealing with alternative gender identifications. A freshman at the school was born a female but now identifies as a male. Adam Davies wants to participate in Greek life but is not ready to join a fraternity. So Davies has asked to join a sorority as a male with a female body. He insists that his interest “transcends the gender binary” but some have objected to leaving such choices to the individual’s determination on gender.
Davies says that he is in transition to a male as a transgender student.
Various sororities have begun to open up their ranks to transgender students. In this case, however, no sorority (among 12 at the school) extended Davies an offer to join. The case has opened up a debate as to whether sororities that reject such applicants should be found as violating discrimination rules.
Title IX prohibits sex discrimination in education but the federal government has declared social fraternities and sororities are exempt. A May 13th letter from the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division and the Department of Education states that greek organizations “are therefore permitted under Title IX to set their own policies regarding the sex, including the gender identity, of their members.”