Court tosses lawsuit from Wyoming students trying to bar transgender woman from sorority

Artemis Langford became University of Wyoming’s first trans member of Greek life last fall

Josh Marcus
San Francisco
Tuesday 29 August 2023 02:15 BST
Transgender student-athletes face protests

A group of University of Wyoming sorority sisters can’t sue the Kappa Kappa Gamma organisation for admitting a transgender student named Artemis Langford, a federal judge ruled on Friday.

“The University of Wyoming chapter voted to admit — and, more broadly, a sorority of hundreds of thousands approved — Langford,” Judge Alan B Johnson wrote in his ruling. “With its inquiry beginning and ending there, the Court will not define ‘woman’ today. The delegate of a private, voluntary organization interpreted ‘woman’, otherwise undefined in the nonprofit’s bylaws, expansively; this Judge may not invade Kappa Kappa Gamma’s freedom of expressive association and inject the circumscribed definition Plaintiffs urge.”

In April, a groupd of six KKG members brought a lawsuit against the sorority, arguing it had violated the organisations bylaws and housing contracts by admitting Ms Langford, the first trans member of Greek life in U of W history.

"I’m grateful that it’s over and I can get back to being a student," Ms Langford told the Casper Star Tribune in a statement. "I’m grateful for everyone’s support – this has been a hard time. I hope this helps other students who are LGBTQ+ avoid the kind of scrutiny I’ve been under and we can be who we are."

The case became a cause célèbre on the right, with sorority members Jaylyn Westenbroek, Hannah Holtmeier, Allison Coghan, Grace Choate, Madeline Ramar and Megan Kosar, who initially tried to bring the lawsuit anonymously, appearing on right-wing outlets like Fox News.

“[W]e’re fighting for the importance of women’s spaces and what it truly means to be a woman. We were promised from the beginning that we would have a sisterhood, meaning only females, and our national sorority has failed us," Ms Westenbroek told the outlet earlier this year.

The sorority, meanwhile, argued that KKG had adopted a position in 2015 allowing those who identified as women to join the sorority.

The suit repeatedly misgendered Ms Langford, refering to her as a “man,” and alleging her attraction to women made her “threatening.”

In his ruling, Judge Johnson called much of the suit “unbeffiting in federal court” and used Ms Langford’s chosen pronouns.

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