Eric Thompson

Dispute Over Transgender Woman Admitted to Wyoming Sorority to Be Argued Before Appeal Judges


In a move that underscores the tension between traditional values and modern interpretations of gender identity, a Wyoming sorority is challenging a ruling that could force them to accept trans-identified males as members. This legal battle strikes at the heart of longstanding societal norms and raises questions about the preservation of single-sex spaces in educational institutions.

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The University of Wyoming chapter of Kappa Kappa Gamma has filed an appeal against a decision by the university’s Transgender Policy Committee, which determined that denying membership to transgender women would violate the school’s non-discrimination policy. The sorority argues that as a private organization, it should have the autonomy to set its own membership criteria based on biological sex.

The US Court of Appeals for the Tenth District will hear arguments on Tuesday in the case, brought forth by six Kappa Kappa Gamma sisters who took issue with trans-identified male Artemis Langford being allowed in their chapter.

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The notice of appeal was filed in September. In August, the US District Court for Wyoming dismissed the case, with Judge Alan Johnson writing at the time, “Kappa Kappa Gamma’s bedrock right as a private, voluntary organization — and one this Court may not invade.”

“The University of Wyoming chapter voted to admit — and, more broadly, a sorority of hundreds of thousands approved — Langford,” Johnson said. “With its inquiry beginning and ending there, the Court will not define ‘woman’ today.”
The lawsuit, which was filed in March 2023, declared that Langford is a fully intact male who claims to be a woman. Langford was not living at the house but was said to spend a lot of time there. The complaint noted that the bathrooms in the sorority house do not have locks on them. “Plaintiffs and other sorority members describe the second floor as a private, safe space where young women can interact without concern that they will be on display for men,” the lawsuit stated.

The case began when a transgender student, who identifies as female but is biologically male, sought to join Kappa Kappa Gamma. The sorority declined the application, citing their status as a single-sex organization. The student then filed a complaint with the university, which led to the committee’s ruling in favor of allowing transgender women into female sororities.

Supporters of the sorority’s stance argue that this issue is not about discrimination but about preserving spaces designed for biological women. They contend that such spaces provide opportunities for camaraderie and support unique to women’s experiences. Critics of this view maintain that transgender women are indeed women and should be afforded all rights and privileges thereof, including participation in gender-specific organizations.

The legal arguments presented by Kappa Kappa Gamma hinge on their rights under Title IX, which prohibits sex-based discrimination in federally funded education programs or activities. The sorority maintains that Title IX allows for single-sex organizations and has historically been interpreted to recognize sex as determined by biology rather than identity.

This appeal comes at a time when debates over transgender rights are increasingly prominent in American society. Across various states, legislation has been proposed—and sometimes passed—that restricts transgender individuals’ access to certain sports teams, bathrooms, and other gender-segregated facilities based on their biological sex at birth rather than their gender identity.

The University of Wyoming finds itself at an intersection of these broader cultural conversations. As an institution receiving federal funding, it must navigate compliance with Title IX while also addressing concerns from students who may feel marginalized or discriminated against based on their gender identity.

Legal experts following the case note its potential implications for similar disputes across the country. If upheld, the ruling requiring Kappa Kappa Gamma to admit trans-identified males could set precedent for other universities and potentially influence how private organizations within educational settings define their membership criteria.

In this June 14, 2016, file photo, two people walk on the University of Wyoming campus in Laramie, Wyo. A U.S. appeals court in Denver is set to hear arguments Tuesday in a lawsuit brought by six members of a University of Wyoming sorority who are challenging the admission of a transgender woman into their local chapter

The debate also touches upon issues of freedom of association—a principle deeply rooted in American constitutional law—which allows private groups some discretion in determining their own membership policies without government interference. Advocates for this freedom argue that compelling a private organization to change its criteria undermines this fundamental right.

As this legal challenge unfolds, it serves as yet another flashpoint in ongoing national discussions about gender identity and inclusivity versus tradition and privacy rights. It remains unclear how courts will balance these competing interests or what impact this case will have on future policies regarding single-sex organizations within educational institutions.

What is clear is that both sides see much at stake: For supporters of traditional definitions of sex-based organizations like sororities, it’s about maintaining spaces specifically tailored for biological females; for advocates of broader definitions inclusive of gender identity, it’s about ensuring equal access and non-discrimination for all students regardless of how they identify.

As this story develops further through court proceedings and public discourse alike, observers from all sides will be watching closely—each hoping for an outcome that aligns with their vision for society’s evolving understanding of gender identity and community standards.

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