Alpha Chi Omega

The Alpha Chi Omega house on March 8, 2017.

Alpha Chi Omega’s motto is “Creating Strong Women,” and until recently transgender women were excluded from that. But on Feb. 17 Alpha Chi Omega’s national headquarters released a statement stating transgender women will be welcomed into the sorority effective immediately.

University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Alpha Chi Omega Chapter President, Savannah Rave said she didn’t see this coming, but she’s interested to see how it goes. Rave also said there were a mix of emotions and reactions within the house.

“Right away you see the people who are all for it because they’re the ones posting things and sharing things on social media,” she said. “Before I even read my email, a girl shared it on our house Facebook page. You definitely saw the positive side of it first, but there are mixed feelings about all things. Some girls who had concerns came to me quietly behind closed doors just to express those.”

Rave said she supports the new policy, but she’s also attentive to those who have expressed concerns to her.

“As president, I need to be transparent with my views as well as let people know that no matter what I support, I support what they feel as well,” Rave said. “My feelings aren’t the only right feelings people can have. I’m all for inclusion and making sure people feel comfortable the way they are.”

Rave said she believes more Greek chapters will follow Alpha Chi Omega’s example in the coming years. In a recent email she received from Alpha Chi Omega’s national headquarters, other chapters have been talking about including transgender people for a while, she said.

“I think sooner or later it will spread, just because that’s how the trend is going,” Rave said. “I just hope for an accepting atmosphere. Especially for recruitment on this campus, just because it’s sometimes hard to be the only ones that are doing things first and hoping people will support you.”

Ronni Jackson, recruitment chair for Alpha Chi Omega, said she doesn’t think UNL’s chapter will be impacted as much as chapters in other states might. Jackson said, although she hasn’t seen any applications from transgender women, she hopes that they would feel welcome at Alpha Chi Omega.

“I don’t see how we wouldn’t make this work for girls,” Jackson said. “We want everyone to feel included and feel like they’re being respected just as much as anyone else.”

Pat Tetreault, director of the LGBTQA+ Resource Center was very happy to hear that Alpha Chi Omega would be accepting transgender women.

“I think it demonstrates the growing awareness of gender identity going beyond the binary and a recognition and acceptance that gender is not binary,” Tetreault said. “This also lets trans students know that progress is happening and that acceptance is increasing even in the current socio-political times.”

Above all, Rave said she wants all women to feel welcomed, comfortable and accepted at Alpha Chi Omega.

“You don’t have to support something to, at the end of the day, be kind about it,” she said. “If we were to accept a transgender woman into our house, she would be given the same rights as all of us here.”

This story was corrected at 11:04 a.m. on March 9 to reflect that Alpha Chi Omega was not the first chapter on UNL to accept transgender women.