Two Missouri State students, both of different years and majors, have never met but have something in common: They didn’t imagine joining Greek life in college.
Quinn Tasset, freshman theater, design, technology and stage management major, was encouraged by their mom to participate in sorority recruitment and said they anticipated dropping out the first day. But they ended up connecting with Gamma Phi Beta, a sorority they felt “at home with.”
Tasset is non-binary and uses they/them pronouns.
Liam Hill, junior merchandising and fashion product development major, was approached by Delta Sigma Phi in the Plaster student Union during the spring 2021 semester.
Hill said he never imagined joining a fraternity, but after attending a few recruitment events, he felt the “friendship sparks” among himself and the others.
Despite feeling connected with their organizations, Tasset and Hill weren’t initially sure they would be able to join.
A space for non-binary students in Greek Life
Tasset said they worried their gender would inhibit them from joining a sorority. However, Tasset said their [Panhellenic] counselor, a sorority member who disaffiliates from her sorority to aid potential new members during recruitment, supported them throughout the process.
“I asked my ([Panhellenic] counselor) day one, ‘Hey, I’m non-binary. Is that something that’s going to mess everything up?’” Tasset said. “She told me, ‘Don’t worry about it. It’s completely fine, and if you have any problems with anyone discriminating against you, come to me and I’ll deal with it.’ I felt super supported.”
According to Fraternity and Sorority Life Advisor Carlye Genisio, the Fraternity and Sorority Life Office “does not currently have policies that govern the topics of gender, transgender membership and discrimination for membership in a fraternity or sorority.”
Rather, all but one chapter at Missouri State are affiliated with international or national organizations, which have their own policies and guidelines for membership.
[Inclusivity] of transgender students in Greek life
After meeting a few Delta Sigma Phi members in the PSU, Hill was sent an email invitation to attend spring recruitment events.
“They sent me an email that said, ‘Hey, come to our recruitment event,’” Hill said. “And at first I was like, ‘Oh heck no.’ So, I replied and said, ‘I’m transgender. I don’t know if I’m allowed to do that.’”
Hill received a response from the fraternity’s president, Jack Phillips, who encouraged Hill to attend the events if he was interested.
Phillips, a junior socio-political communications major, said the Delta Sigma Phi bylaws state that membership is open to “any undergraduate man enrolled at Missouri State University.”
The chapter decided to interpret “man” as “anyone whose gender identity aligns with the ideas of manhood,” Phillips said. The national organization allows individual chapters to accept members based on their own definition of “manhood.”
Hill said after attending the first recruitment event, he felt connected to the members.
“I never knew being in a fraternity was something that I’d ever do, and then I ended up really liking the people,” Hill said. “It wasn’t even being in a fraternity that drew me to it. It was just the fact that I really enjoyed the people that were in the fraternity.”
Hill said his brothers have been “overwhelmingly supportive,” especially over the last few months, since he had top surgery in June, a procedure to remove breast tissue.
I didn’t want anyone to see me at first because I couldn’t shower, I didn’t feel good, so I just wanted to be at home alone, but whenever I was ready to see people, everyone was basically busting down my door wanting to see me,” Hill said with a smile.