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Zeta Phi Beta sorority adopts ‘diversity statement’ banning trans women

April 28, 2019
Howard University in Washington, D.C., where Zeta Phi Beta was founded in 1920. (Wikimedia Commons)

Howard University in Washington, D.C., where Zeta Phi Beta was founded in 1920. (Wikimedia Commons)

An American sorority has come under fire after details of a ‘diversity statement’ banning transgender women from joining are revealed.

Zeta Phi Beta, a sorority founded at Howard University in Washington D.C., has adopted a ‘diversity statement’ which declares “an individual must be a cisgender woman” to join the sorority, according to The Washington Blade.

The statement adds the sorority “values all people, regardless of race, age, gender, gender expression, ability, disability, creed, religion, or walk of life.”

The Washington Blade reports that Zeta Phi Beta has declined to comment further on the new policy, which is believed to have been adopted by the Zeta Phi Beta International Executive Board on January 12,

The Zeta Phi Beta Monument at Howard University. (RaEdits [CC BY-SA 4.0]/Wikimedia Commons)
The Zeta Phi Beta Monument at Howard University. (RaEdits [CC BY-SA 4.0]/Wikimedia Commons)

Founded on January 16, 1920, Zeta Phi Beta was created by women who “believed that sorority elitism and socializing overshadowed the real mission for progressive organizations and failed to address fully the societal mores, ills, prejudices, and poverty affecting humanity in general and the black community in particular.”

Its website added that the sorority aims to “encourage the highest standards of scholastic achievement, and foster a greater sense of unity among its members.”

The sorority has over 100,000 members and 800 chapters across the world, including Africa, Europe, Asia and the Caribbean.

People were quick to express their disappointment with zeta phi beta

Professor and writer Shanita Hubbard posted on Twitter: “As a member of Zeta Phi Beta, I’m incredibly disappointed by this decision.

“Our founders believed sorority elitism was overshadowing the real mission of our organizations and wanted to create something different. Yet here we are.”

Shanita Hubbard said she was 'disappointed' with the policy. (Twitter/@msshanitarenee)
Shanita Hubbard said she was ‘disappointed’ with the policy. (Twitter/@msshanitarenee)

Writer and speaker Jamilah Lemieux said that the policy was “so disappointing.”

“I’d been bracing for our orgs to start addressing trans identity, but had assumed the issue of contention would be membership status if a member has transitioned—not jumping out to ban trans women for literally no reason.”

@blaqueerfemme said on Twitter the policy was “gross and disgusting,” adding that “if any group of people should understand the harmful impact of the regulation of womanhood it is cis black women.”

More: Diversity statement, Howard University, sorority, Transgender, US, Washington D.C., Zeta Phi Beta

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