A group of students at the University of Wyoming were upset enough about the inclusion of trans women in a sorority that they tried to get the federal government to intervene. Out of the hundreds of thousands of sorority members, six were seeking compensation over the approval of only one member—trans woman Artemis Langford. A district court judge has now summarily dismissed their case.
The sorority in question, Kappa Kappa Gamma, along with 25 other sororities in the National Panhellenic Conference, has been accepting trans women into its ranks since 2015. However, six women at the University of Wyoming chapter (out of over 145 nationwide chapters) sued the organization’s president, claiming the sorority had violated its own rules by admitting a trans woman.
Although Langford did not reside in the house with the other sisters, the plaintiffs also cited safety concerns, alleging that she made them uncomfortable by staring at them. Langford’s attorney, Rachel Berkness, characterized those allegations as attempts to “fling dehumanizing mud” and “to bully Ms. Langford on the national stage.”
Step aside, ‘Heartstopper.’ This wholesome opposites-attract couple’s love story is everyone’s favorite new queer rom-com.
The sisters were seeking damages in line with the declines in donations since Langford’s admittance, for Langford to be removed from the organization, and for trans women to be banned from all other chapters.
On Friday, US District Court Judge Alan Johnson dismissed the lawsuit, ruling that the sisters had failed to prove their allegations or that KKG’s bylaws prohibited the inclusion of trans women. “Defining ‘woman’ is Kappa Kappa Gamma’s bedrock right as a private, voluntary organization, and one this court may not invade,” he wrote.
“The University of Wyoming chapter voted to admit – and, more broadly, a sorority of hundreds of thousands approved – Langford,” Johnson added. “With its inquiry beginning and ending there, the court will not define ‘woman’ today.”
Berkness praised the ruling, but acknowledged the damage the lawsuit had done to Langford’s reputation and mental health. “The allegations against Ms. Langford should never have made it into a legal filing,” Berkness said. “They are nothing more than cruel rumors that mirror exactly the type of rumors used to vilify and dehumanize members of the LGBTQIA+ community for generations. And they are baseless.”
Although the ruling leaves the ability to exclude trans women up to the sorority, KKG has stood firmly behind Langford. In the original motion to dismiss the lawsuit, the sorority pointed out that the six members do not “have a legal right to be in a sorority that excludes transgender women.” And in the event that “a position of inclusion is too offensive to their personal values,” they could always just resign.