Western Enticement: Cultural Ignorance or Heroic Deeds

Mansplaining: the act of a man explaining something to a woman in a degrading manner. Is Western feminism “mansplaining” how equality functions to non-Western countries? Is the act of forcing our cultural norms onto others indeed not an act of colonization? Have we not induced enough pain onto the people of non-western countries: forcing them to take up our religions, forcing our ideals down their throats and now taking those same ideals and trying to pull them out of their culture again[1]?

Now, I was raised in a “Western cultured” European country, perhaps not the first one that comes to mind, and most definitely not the one that induced most of the pain Africans lived through during the colonization period; nevertheless, I feel guilty for my generations colonization. The colonization of culture. The term Cultural Appropriation is being thrown around a lot these days; a term that tackles these matters. Through globalization, it tends to be Western culture that is praised whilst every other culture is degraded. Despite degrading other cultures there seems to be an, not often spoken of, appreciation for some elements within these same cultures.  These elements often get claimed as our own, often as a fashion statement[2]: cornrows, Native American head dresses, the Indian third eye, etc.

I sense these cultural challenges in my own home, Iceland. Our language is under siege, English slang is making its way into the language, making us lose some of the culture we have held on too so strongly for hundreds of years. The fashion is changing, family values, and the younger generations do not care to get to know their own culture and country as much as my parents did and their parents before them. Rather, my generation is hooked on the Kardashians and snapchat superstars. These things, our involvement in the Western bubble of thinking that we are the greatest, makes me want to take a part in this conversation. As important home and my culture is for me, for this essay, I choose to venture further. I choose to do this as Iceland is still considered a part of the Western world and a country that is leading the world in its quest for full equality; being the most equal country in the world (Nowakowski). Hence, one of those Western countries “equalitysplaining”. Also, if my own country and culture is getting lost, not through globalization, but rather westernization[3], how can I claim that “equalitysplaining” other cultures just because I disagree with them is alright?

I am going to be mainly focusing on Sub-Sharan Africa and Sudan. These are the places/countries/regions where a controversial “surgical” procedure is in many cases practiced on young females and the West’s perhaps negative impact. These surgeries are what we in the West have come to know as Female Genital Mutilation or FGM[4]. FGC, you might have heard the term before, but what is it? According to anthropologist Dr. Ellen Gruenbaum there are three different forms of genital cutting: sunna, pharaonic and infibulation (Gruenbaum). These three forms differ in result and invasiveness: Sunna, the least drastic of the three includes only the hood of the clitoris being removed, infibulation involves cutting the clitoris, labia minora and labia majora off and then sewing them shut together leaving only a small hole for both menstruation and urine to go through, and pharaonic places somewhere in between the two[5].

The Western world main exposure to these practices have been through media: TV-shows, interviews, news-articles and so on. This means that the media has a strong influence on how we think of FGC. When media chooses to refer to FGC as Female Circumcision (FC) rather than FGM, sunna might be what people think of. This is the procedure that is the most relatable to the word circumcision in the Western world; circumcision on males is for example widely practiced, culturally and religiously throughout the United States. While if the media speaks of FGM, forms such as infibulation will rather come into people’s minds. This automatically gives an idea of a more “savage” lifestyle than the generally accepted way of living in the Western world. This leads to Western feminists – feminists who are ignorant of the cultural significance that FGM has in these societies – feel as if they need to step in and stop this “barbaric” behavior. This on the other hand might have more of a backlash to the fight for equality and to stop the procedures than they might expect. This in my opinion is what could be called a form of cultural colonization; even though the land is no longer being taken away from African Natives, their culture is still being questioned without any thought given to try and understand it.

Through Western media we are taught that these practices are wrong. I have never seen anything written on FGM that did not only focus on the women’s lack of choice and the pain that the procedures puts them through. This is very apparent from the United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) informative website on the matter. Under their “key facts”, they state how the surgeries have only negative impacts on a girl’s health. A statement that cannot be undermined, but they choose to ignore the cultural impact that not going through with the surgeries might have. How the girls might be exiled form their own communities if they choose to not go through with the procedure. This is by no means to state that the surgeries should continue; but perhaps, as Dr. Gruenbaum mentions, this is not the most pressing issue that is on the Sub-Saharan-African-feminist’s minds (Gruenbaum), and who can blame them? This exact argument is seen within various other scholar’s works, such as sociologist Dr. Lisa Wade who sates

…for many women who are part of communities where cutting occurs, FGCs are far from their most challenging problem. Some resent Westerners who focus on sex while ignoring widespread poverty and disease (often a direct result of contemporary and historical Western exploitation). (Wade)

 

This is further supported by Dr. Kakenya Ntaiya – a Kenyan woman who was circumcised as a teenager – who spoke of her experiences with FGM with the Marc Fennel, an interviewer for The Feed SBS Viceland. She tells him of how deciding to adhere to her cultural norms gave her a platform to make a contract[6] with her father. This led to her receiving an education – becoming the first Maasai woman to receive a PhD – and later return and establish a school for girls in her village (Ntaiya). Through this, along with Dr. Gruenbaum and Dr. Wade’s arguments, we might assume that education might be more important to these women at this point in history than stopping FGC.

Looking through the timeline (Wade) of Western feminist scholar’s work and their mentions of FGC we can see how thoughts have developed on the issue here in the West. 1976 is when the term FGM was coined by sociologist Frank Hosken (Wade), as he believed it described the procedure better than Female Circumcision, a term used up till then. She also believed that all women should join together and form a global sisterhood (where my thoughts on cultural colonization come to mind). Firm beliefs about how African women were not able to protect themselves from FGC, and that Western influence was needed to support them started coming up between some sociologist scholars.  Meanwhile anthropologists believed that an alliance between Western and non-Western women needed to be established to support the women and educate them on their choices rather than telling them that their culture was barbaric and wrong (Wade). These thoughts have developed further today, and we can find both views in scholarly articles. Nevertheless, only one discussed in the media today, the one that teaches us that the practice is barbaric and unnecessary.

Even though popular media chooses to only focus on the health risks that the procedure has on the young girls, anthropologist scholars work give different ideas. If you choose to dig deeper you will be able to see more culturally sensitive descriptions of the reasoning behind the surgeries. Through books such as the Female Genital Circumcision Controversy by Dr. Ellen Gruenbaum one can reach a different understanding of the procedures. Not only do works such as Dr. Gruenbaum’s focus on the health implications; they also try and consider the cultural significance that the procedure has. Dr. Gruenbaum, who focused most of her research in Sudan reaches deep into the community of the tribes she lives amongst during her ethnographic research. Reading through her material, one can see that these women – who are often portrayed as weak and not able to fend for themselves – are fighting the system from within, on their own terms. Why are these not the stories we see in the popular media? If we are to support these women, would this not be the stories we should see? Stories such as the one told by Dr. Ntaiya? Stories of women making changes within their own communities because they believe these changes should happen not because someone else comes and tells them how they should lead their lives. I believe that we do not see these stories because we, as Western self-proclaimed heroes cannot place ourselves in the “heroic shoes” of going on trips to Africa – notice how I use the continent as a whole, not individual countries – on mission trips to save these “poor” girls. Because of the Western believe that our culture is superior we feel a need to go out and “integrate” other cultures through “globalization”; those are the words we choose to use, but perhaps words such as “destroy” and “appropriation” would be more fitting, as globalization is on Western terms. In a modern society, at least the one we live in today, there are few ways we can prevent this. One of the best ways would be to educate ourselves, to understand where people different from ourselves are coming from and how we might support them in their own fights and how they might support us in ours. Rather than believing that only we can help them and that they have nothing to offer us.

Despite our thoughts on the procedures being harmful and barbaric – my own thoughts included – is it really our place to comment? Communities where these practices are common the procedures are seen as a rite of passage, a preparation for a girl to become a woman and to prepare her for marriage.  These procedures are, not surprisingly, most common in patriarchal communities and the procedure is seen as a way of controlling a woman’s sexual activity later in life; it is an encouragement to not cheat on your husband as sex will not be pleasurable for you as a woman. This is extremely unfair. Why is a woman’s sexuality something that should be under the control of first her mother or father that choose to allow the procedure to be done and then later her husband? (Gruenbaum) Well, believe it or not, it is not only here in the West that these thoughts come up, many African women – women that have gone through these procedures and understand the cultural significance they have – are constantly working to abolish these traditions and have been doing so for longer than you might think. Different groups around Sub-Saharan-Africa have been finding ways to battle FGC, both politically and also through education, such as the organization Maendeleo Ya Wanawake, where education and new traditions are taught and offered by local women.

You might think – like me – what can I do? According to most of the research I have seen unfortunately there is not much we can do except leaving culture to reshape itself or offer financial support to organizations such as Maendeleo Ya Wanawake. Western scholars have been trying to analyze why Western efforts to end such practices are often unsuccessful and both Dr. Frances A. Althaus and Dr. Gruenbaum come up with the same argument: cultural imperialism, or as I have been referring to it, cultural colonization.

Efforts to eliminate female circumcision have often been unsuccessful because opponents of the practice ignored its social and economic context. In some cases, external intervention has strengthened the resolve of communities to continue their genital cutting rituals as a way of resisting what they perceive as cultural imperialism. (Althaus)

 

If you are not satisfied by this answer, then maybe, just maybe, it is time for you to look at your own action. Are you guilty of some form of cultural appropriation or believes of your culture being superior? Neither which is horrible, I am guilty of both myself. Perhaps you might just want to change how you express these things: do not get a Native American headdress tattooed on your forearm without understanding the significance, do not claim to know more about someone’s culture than they do, do explore other cultures, do appreciate them and celebrate them, but do so in as respectful manner as you can. Let us try and do the same with serious matters such as FGC. Let us not try and educate someone on the best way for them to change their culture, let us not claim to understand it if we have not researched it or lived with it, let us educate ourselves before we speak. And hopefully by educating ourselves, we might become a force for change, we might be the one publishing a new article, conducting an interview, doing ethnographic research. As we say in Icelandic, “batnandi manni er best að lifa” or “a man who chooses to better themselves leads a better life”.

 

Works Cited

Althaus, Frances A. “Female Circumcision: Rite of Passage or Violation of Rights?” International Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health (1997): 130. Online Article.

Grey, Sam. “Decolonising Feminism: Aboriginal Women and the Global ‘Sisterhood’.” Enweyin: The Way We Speak Vol. III (2004). online document.

Gruenbaum, Ellen. The Female Circumcision Controversy: An Anthropological Perspective. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2001. Print.

Nowakowski, Kelsey. “Where in the World are Women and Men Most – and Least – Equal?” National Geographic January 2017: 28-29. Article.

Ntaiya, Kakenya. The Feed SBS Viceland; genital circumcision Marc Fennell. 9 MArch 2017. Video Interview.

Wade, Lisa. “The Evolution of Feminst Thought About Female Genital Cutting.” 2009. socwomen.org. Fact Sheet. 10 April 2017.

World Health Organization. Female Genital Mutilation. February 2017. Fact Sheet. 10 April 2017.

[1] Here I am referring to countries where homosexuality was once allowed if not embraced, but during the colonization period, Christian gospel that was spread taught that it was wrong and punished people for it, making it socially harmful to act out on your homosexuality. Today many of these countries, flex. Uganda have a strong anti-gay agenda; proofing my argument that this force of colonization has changed their culture. The same people that sparked these changes are now telling them that these believes – believes that they were taught to embrace – are wrong.

[2] “Festival wear,” look up Coachella if you want to see examples of this.

[3] Globalization on Western terms.

[4] I will try to use the more neutral term Female Genital Cutting or FGC despite my own biases and tendency to want to use Female Genital Cutting.

[5] These are the definitions given by one woman, not all tribes will use these nor are they fully agreed upon by all, Gruenbaum herself not being able to expand on her definitions being used for the same procedures between 2 or more tribes.

[6]  if she went through the surgery her father was going to allow her to continue her schooling.

A Construct of Culture

An Expository Essay on Riki Anne Wilchins 1993 speech “What Does it Cost to Tell the Truth”

Man, woman or something in-between? Gender is a complicated term, one loaded with as many different interpretations as there are cultures. However, there seems to be one theme that dictates how we think of gender; our overall appearance. Riki Anne Wilchins argues that this learned behaviour of assigning a person a gender as soon as we see them is harmful. Our need to take in everything about a person’s appearance, place it into boxes, and find imperfections is ingrained in us. But as a trans* person how does one tackle this? Is this any different today than it was in 1993? have we reached another period or phase in fashion as Wilchins chooses to word it, and what implications might that have?

Wilchins relies on being able to create a strong emotional bond with their[1] listeners, to do this they use pathos, a linguistic tool used by many speakers before them and after. It simplifies their mission that they are speaking at a “transsexual[2] speak-out held at New York’s Lesbian and Gay Community Center in 1993; in honor of the forty-year anniversary of Christine Jorgensen’s sex-change[3]” (Whilchins). Wilchins venue, where they speak to a group of their peers, gives them a platform to speak of things lightly and without going into terminology. It is likely that there will be at least one person in this crowd, if not more, that has had similar experiences. It is even likelier that most of their audience members did have some knowledge of the gender spectrum and what is by society considered abnormalities in gender expressions.

Wilchins uses strong and descriptive language when they talk about their experiences, the very opening line — “I was twenty-six when I learned I was very tall” (Whilchins)– sets the theme for the coming speech. The use of the word “very” places an emphasis on the fact that this is an abnormal treat, something that is not desired. Wilchins also tries to explain to their readers what impact this emotional ‘bullying’ might have on someone: “She will wake one day to find herself lost within the unknown landmarks and inhabited by those whose alien features, and distant ways, she can no longer recognize” (Whilchins). This quote especially, comments on how our bodies do not seem to be our property. Our bodies have rather become the property of our culture and society. This leads our bodies, which we should be familiar with, becoming alien because of the expectations that others have for it.

In their speech, Wilchins offers what is seemingly not only their own opinions but also the opinions of great philosophers such as Simone de Beauvoir, Michel Foucault, and Judith Butler. This not only provides ethos for the reader – displaying that the speaker has researched what they are speaking off – but perhaps also a sense of relief. If there is anyone in the audience that has experienced similar thoughts, there is more than one, and more than two people that feel or have felt the same, this offers validation. A validation, as Wilchins quotes their friend, must come from others as she doesn’t “know how to see” (Whilchins) herself. “She must know how others see her so she can know how to see herself; otherwise, she enters a society at her peril” (Whilchins). We do not feel as if this validation can come from ourselves as it is not us but others that often offer us the hardest critique, or at least this is what we choose to believe (Thornton). We have become so obsessed with the idea that everyone’s eyes are constantly on us. This results in us forgetting to think of our own believes and present us as we ourselves choose without others influence. Our society, and we, as the product of the media, are so obsessed with looks that we have created unreachable goals for ourselves and our peers. This is what Wilchins chooses to refer to as “social truths” (Whilchins) about our bodies; and if we do not fit these norms and standards we set ourselves up for others mocking us or even worse, assaulting. With recent reports from the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs this is still a big issue and truth (National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs).

Despite the speech being written and given in 1993, 24 years ago, it still teaches the modern reader a valuable lesson. It tries to give a pure account of a person’s experience as a transgender individual in the 20th century, an experience which has in many cases not changed at all. Nevertheless, it also holds great value for a cisgender individual, as there are various things in Wilchins speech that relates to us all as humans. Which might lead the cisgender community to empathize with those who are transgender. We have all felt like we didn’t belong; we have all felt a sense of mismatch between our own views of ourselves and others’ views of us. As Wilchins friend, we have probably all looked in a mirror and thought too ourselves a version of this: “when I first look at myself in the mirror, I look fine. I think, Well, all right! But I look once again, harder, imagining how people must see me, and then I see only the fat and wrinkles and I feel just awful” (Whilchins). What Wilchins is trying to tell us is that the ‘fashion’ of looks changes through time. We should not be too hard on ourselves nor others and not hold each other to these social norms that our cultures have constructed for us. They rather try and urge us to take a stand and support each other by bringing to the surface the mistakes in communication we are making, be it verbally or physically. Both talking badly about our own appearance or commenting on an aspect of someone’s look absentmindedly that might be taken the wrong way. Even worse is when we know that our comments will hurt another individual but we still go through with it.

Wilchins communicates her speech with a strong sense of ethos and pathos. These techniques give the audience a reassurance that they have some form of authority and relevance to speak to them. The fact that they are speaking to an audience that can relate to their experiences gives them leeway to speak of the issues their community is facing, rather than just terminology, such as might have been needed at another conference. Despite a lot of the terminology having changed and that there is more freedom of gender expression in today’s world, a transgender individual is likely to run into some of the same issues as Wilchins touches upon in their speech. The issue of violence has perhaps not even dwindled with reports on trans* violence rather increasing than decreasing in the last few years. This makes me wonder, have we reached another “wave” in fashion? If we have reached a new wave will it benefit the trans* community or is the media’s obsession with beauty making it even harder to “pass” in today’s community. This might be solved by more speakers like Wilchins that can speak and stay relevant to both the cisgender and trans* communities. A culture is strong but with stronger people and stronger words it can be changed. A change in culture creates a different perspective on various things, and a change in our perspective on gender might solve some of the issues raised in this speech.

Works Cited

Goldberg, Carey. The New York TImes. 11 June 1999. Article. 11 January 2017.

National Center for Transgender Equality. Transgender Terminology. 15 January 2014. Encyclopedia. 30 January 2017.

National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs. “Hate Violence: Agains Transgender Communities.” 2013. http://www.apv.org/storage/documents/ncavp_transhvfactsheet.pdf. Flier. 20 February 2017.

Thornton, Elizabeth R. Do You Have an External Validation Mental Model? Pshychology today, 13 June 2015.

Unknown. A Gender Variance Who’s Who. 27 March 2014. Article. 30 January 2017.

What Does it Cost to Tell the Truth? By Riki Anne Whilchins. New York. 1993.

[1] They/them/their pronouns will be used for the author as different sources display different prefered pronouns for the author (Unknown) (Goldberg).

[2] Will be referred to as transgender or trans* from now on and not transsexual because of the stigma related to the word (National Center for Transgender Equality).

[3] Will be referred too as sex reassignment surgery but not sex-change as it is today seen as a derogatory term by many (National Center for Transgender Equality).

Finding Your Box

An Expository Essay on Greek Life and Gender Identity

Google People of Greek Life and press images, what do you see? Images of people, but more importantly: girls with long flowing hair and flawless makeup, guys with athletic bodies and charming smiles, and the ever-present Greek letters across the chest of their shirts. The uniformity of these individuals, no matter where in the country they are from is striking. Now that you have googled this, what comes to mind? The first thing that comes to my mind, not only through this image search, but also through my limited knowledge of the Greek system, is how they are embracing the stereotypical gender roles. Something that for some is comforting, but for others, is a draining task. For individuals, such as myself an AFAB (assigned female at birth) with a shaved head, wearing androgynous clothing and gender non-conforming, this seems as the epitome of what we have tried to fight being placed within our whole life, these gendered boxes. Despite this I want to know: If I had a will to join a Greek Philanthropic movement would that opportunity be out there for me? As a gender ambiguous individual that does not lay within the traditional feminine and/or masculine borders is there any representation within the Greek life for me? And if I had a will to become this representation for others, could I?

According to the sorting system of Greek Life, because of my genitalia, I should join a sorority, but would I really fit in there? I do not have long flowing hair, I do not often wear makeup and I certainly do not feel comfortable in a group where differences are not embraced but rather frowned upon. But are these only stereotypes or is there some change within the system that I am not familiar with? Could I be missing out on an opportunity of a lifetime?

As an alien to the United State my ideas of Greek Life have been painted pop culture. This includes movies such as Animal House, Neighbors, Legally Blond 1 & 2 and American Pie. This has created some stereotypes not only in my head but probably in others as well. When I first stepped onto the OU campus the rushing period had already started. I saw girls running around in “uniforms”, what I can imagine that they had been told to wear that day. These girls were different individuals but by wearing the same type of clothing they came this entity of Greek Life. Their individuality was slowly drained away from them in this week-long progress and if they made it through it these same girls could easily be spotted for the first few months of the semester. They were wearing what I came to know as the “sorority uniform”: a t-shirt so long that you wondered if they were wearing anything underneath and a pair of tennis shoes. But it was not only the girls that could be seen wearing “uniforms”. The guys that joined fraternities had a similar dress code, a polo shirt or a shirt with the Greek Letters on and a pair of khaki or jean shorts, as well as the trusted paddle in their bag – what purpose that paddle has, I don’t even want to imagine. This uniformity scared me. To see what is around 25% (US News Higher Education) of the student body all dressed the same way was too me abnormal. This is not something you see at the University of Iceland, the university I had learned about higher education from, here individuality was encouraged and people from all walks of life could be seen displaying their personalities through their appearance.

But why were these “uniforms so important to the individuals of the Greek System? Perhaps it is not much of an option, at least not during the initial rushing process and the first weeks of lectures. Per an article published in the OU Daily by a former Alpha Phi member she and her fellow rushing freshmen sisters were required to wear specific brands of clothing, as well as styles and colors, during their rushing week (Ellisor). This seems to be echoed around the United States as similar rules are seen for other chapters, such as the Alpha Chi Omega chapter at University of Southern California. Here they had strict rules for appearance which lead to the sorority members losing the power to control how they looked. Rules such as keeping your natural hair color, trimming your eyebrows, wearing spanx and keeping a full face of makeup on at all times. But not any old makeup, no, they all must look the same, same lip tints, same eyeshadows and so on (Merlan). So, the question is, are the uniforms really something that is important to each individual member or is it important for the sororities public image?

Personally, speaking to my peers and thinking of this myself, we find fashion, such as clothes, haircuts and makeup, important ways of defining ourselves and presenting to the world. I will not wear the same clothes to class that I would wear to a meeting with the CEO of Apple or a dinner at a nice restaurant. Each of these cases allow me to present myself in a certain way, but these choices seem to have been taken away from the sorority girls. From what I have heard about the sororities dressing policies from members of them, they really do not have a lot of opportunities for any official events to express themselves, making them a part of the crowd. This is good for the image of the sorority in the sense that it shows a uniformity and that all the girls are equals. Similar ideas have been applied elsewhere. I have been a scout for countless years as well as being raised within the Lutheran Protestant Church. In both associations, we wore uniforms. In the scouts, we wore them to important events to show that we were a group and that we were proud of it, but on an everyday basis for meetings and trips we could wear whatever we chose to wear. For my church confirmation, we all wore confirmation gowns. They were originally put into use by the church as to show that we were all God’s children and that no matter our financial status or how fancy our own clothes were that we were all essentially the same. Sororities are going for this same uniformity, but differently than the confirmation gowns that I and my peers wore. The members of the sororities have to pay high amounts of money to follow their “sisters” trends. This comes not only through joining fees but also individual event fees, payment for different shirts as well as the pampering such as getting a manicure, makeup and hair products. This uniformity also ensures that not one of the “sisters” ever stands out, which is in my opinion not ideal, especially when you are trying to network at your chapter’s events.

This need for a uniform look not only breaks down the individuality each girl has, but it also creates a base for a binary to exist. Everyone is pushed so far to a stereotypical feminine role that even if they wanted to stray away from it, they would not be able to do that for more than a couple of days a week where dress codes are not enforced. These girls lose what is essentially their “I” as Judith Butler puts it. They lose their means to express themselves on a daily basis.

Not only can these dress codes and strict rules pose issues to those who fall within the cisgender category on the gender spectrum, they can seem terrifying for trans* people that want to join them. The fear of “passing” becomes more prominent. Within the Greek community there has been a move to become more accepting to trans students. Just recently Alpha Chi Omega — yes, the same sorority I spoke of with the harsh rule packet — came out as the first nationwide sorority to accept transgender women (Marusic). Before that they had had a flat out ban on trans women. Before they took this move other individual chapters around the nation had been doing this, as well as few “LGBT-specific Greek social organizations, like Gamma Rho Lambda and Delta Lambda Phi” (Marusic). This is a big step for Greek life as Alpha Chi Omega is one of the oldest sororities in the National Panhellenic Conference and might open up for other chapters to feel secure in their position to do the same. This same move has been echoed at the fraternities. One of the nations, oldest fraternities, Chi Phi, recently voted to allow trans men to pledge. The only issue with their new policy is the need for proof by a piece of official and legal documentation (Avery), something that is not very easy to produce as a trans person depending on where you live and how far you have gone in the transitioning process. As great as this move is and the wonders that it will hopefully do for trans acceptance, it still focuses on the gender binary that we as a society have created. This still excludes gender non-conforming individuals, such as myself. Fair enough because of my gender marker I could rush for a sorority but as I stated earlier I am not certain about how comfortable that would make me. Having to adhere to my sex’s stereotypes every day, with makeup, dresses, short-shorts and so on would only add on to my gender-dysphoria, preventing me from focusing on my academics, what to me should be one of the major aspects of the university experience. But the first step has been taken, justice has been done to part of the trans* community and one can only hope that more will be done.

Because of the strict rules many sororities and fraternities set for their members regarding their clothing, hairstyles and basically every other aspect of their appearance, it might be tough for a trans* individual to fit within the community. If you are not positive in your “passing” capability you might not even dare to rush as you might feel too “different” from the other guys and girls. Despite what seems to be a move by the Greek community to become more open to trans* individuals they still only look at those who fall within their ideal binary. This leaves no space for people such as myself to be a part of it. Thankfully for me, I have little interest in joining one of these organizations, but that is me, and I cannot talk for everyone. Justice is slowly being done to FMT (female to male) and MTF (male to female) trans individuals but those who are on different spots of the spectrum are left in the dust. The push for change has been started and now we need to trust on other individuals to get behind the bus and push it further. Pushing it towards justice, one inch at a time.

Works Cited

Avery, Dan. One Of The Country’s Oldest Fraternities Just Voted To Accept Trans Men. 7 July 2016. Article. 22 March 2017.

Butler, Judith. “Doing Justice to Somone.” Essay. 2004.

Ellisor, Laney. Are You Sure Joining the Greek System is Right for You? Online article. Norman: OU Daily, 2011. Online Newspaper.

Marusic, Kristina. Sorority Becomes First To Accept Transgender Women Nationwide. 3 March 2017. Article. 15 March 2017.

Merlan, Anna. Jezebel. 16 January 2016. Article. 20 March 2017.

US News Higher Education. University of Oklahoma. 2017. Article. 22 March 2017.