Morehouse College

The campus of Morehouse College in Atlanta earlier this month.

— AP Photo/Mike Stewart

The women of Zeta Phi Beta have taken the fully reasonable stance of wanting their sorority to remain exactly what it was intended to be when it was founded — a sisterhood for Black college women.

In January, the 99-year-old sorority that originated on the campus of Howard University issued a “diversity statement” blocking transgender women from joining its ranks. It was not interested 99 years ago in having biological men as members and it is not interested in that today. They should not be forced by anyone to abandon their tradition.

This news came to light last week, just a week after news that Morehouse College, the nation’s only all-male historically Black college, will begin enrolling transgender men, those who identify as male but are biologically female, in 2020. Adding to the confusion, the school’s admission policy says all students are expected to self-identify as a man as long as they are enrolled at Morehouse. If a student transitions from a man to a woman, that student will be booted out.

Today, self-assigning one’s sex and having the latitude to reject what is on one’s birth certificate is the new normal. If an opponent so much as questions policies protecting the right to overrule one’s biology, liberals will parade the opposition before weaponized media such as CNN and CBS — each with their own troubling history of discrimination — and label the disagreeable as bigots.

Here’s a suggestion: Since we are playing it wild and loose when it comes to self-identifying sex, why stop there? Why not do the same with race? Why should a person who feels trapped inside the body of Black person who wants to enjoy the benefits of whiteness not be able to reclassify as, say, a transracial Caucasian?

It’s no secret that there are certain drawbacks and stigmas attached to Blackness that are completely undesirable. For example, being able to view the police as good guys protecting and serving rather than through a prism of suspicion is something that most African Americans simply cannot relate to.

Studies show that the average white high school dropout earns more than the average African-American college graduate. Imagine the potential benefits to be reaped — like saving thousands of dollars on student loans that some in society apparently don’t require — by simply being able to declare oneself a transracial Caucasian after dropping out of high school.

As a newly minted transracial Caucasian, a former African American, freed from the multitudinous negative stereotypes much of society grafts to Blacks in employment, the court system and access to education, could experience options never before dreamed of.

This, of course, would never happen. Of all the “isms” that divide our nation, racism remains the one around which a civil and honest national conversation is the hardest to achieve.

Colin Kaepernick tried to initiate one when he protested the shooting of unarmed Black men by police and look how quickly that went down the rabbit hole. My sense is that the same people who didn’t want to have that conversation recognize the benefits of being white in America and are not very interested in sharing them.

If transracial Caucasian status isn’t going to be an option like picking and choosing one’s sex is, Black sororities like Zeta Phi Beta and HBCUs should at least have the option of staying exactly what they were when they were formed. Zeta Phi Beta was founded because white sororities would not admit women of color. Other options did not exist.

And while Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos shockingly stated that HBCUs are the earliest examples of school choice, they exist solely because hundreds of colleges and universities for years barred Blacks from enrolling.

While other marginalized groups continue to benefit from the civil rights movement, those who were denied the right to vote, denied access to higher education, and hanged from trees by the thousands are still wondering when their plight will really be acknowledged. Hell, even former President Barack Obama spoke at least as much or more about LGBTQ issues than he did about race.

I’m sure it’s a burden feeling trapped inside of a body one feels he or she does not belong in. In response to this, society is gradually becoming more accepting of this predicament.

But Black people can’t abandon (not that most of us want to) the scarlet letter of color just because it’s not bringing us access to the things we’d like to have in life.

So how about letting us keep our fraternities, sororities and HBCUs just the way they’ve always been? Seems like a fair trade to me.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author. They are not necessarily intended to reflect the views of The Philadelphia Tribune.

(67) comments

Guest

lol. this is the most transphobic, uninformed, and ignorant piece of writing i’ve ever seen. i strongly suggest taking any gender studies class. gender is a spectrum, it is by no means biological, and it’s narrow-minded western ideologies like the one you just perpetuated that are responsible for the violence and death that so many trans people experience.

Guest

The post is well written and alot of people share the writer's views.....

Guest

Agreed

Guest

I would hope This view with adopted by the divine nine I fully support keeping the Founders of our organizations intact Transsexual have the right to start their own organizations / group

Guest

Awesome piece of knowledge. Perspective is everything and I agree wholeheartedly with the author.

Guest

I'm a senior at Morehouse College and I whole hearted agree with this article. Liberals are making a mockery of an institution designed to uplift and educate Black men, who otherwise don't have this opportunity. A phobia is an irrational fear of something. None of my Morehouse brothers are afraid of crossdressing, mentally ill and confused people! Homosexuality is a western Civilization practice, before you attempt to belittle someone, do some research!

Guest

I think this is a poorly positioned piece, but I didn't care either way until I read this comment. How is homosexuality an Western Civilization practice? Because many eastern countries punish homosexuality death so fewer homosexuals are counted? Homosexuality is in the Bible which is set entirely in the East! Don't embarrass the institution.

Marcia

It is obvious where your fight is and the manipulation of the use of blacks blood to fuel your self-made decision to become something you're really not is a "Dying" shame and to force people to accept a lie you want so badly to be TRUE is double repulsive! A race is something that doesn't come with options, calling a "p" a "v"and a "v" a "p" is an option and a LIE!! To the author, I love your analogy and consensus!

My gawd... as an LGBTQ person myself, I ask others from my community to stop over-reacting!

I just have to say this on behalf of my other LGBTQ friends who have also read this article. I don't think there's anything "wrong" with what the author said. I also am not surprised by the perspectives. I understand where he's coming from. Do I agree? No, but dag free speech is free speech. Let him state his point. Let the newspaper present diverse perspectives. We have to have our own voice and stop asking everyone to cater their voices to say what makes us feel comfortable. If you can't stand hearing this type of perspective you might as well go live on your own LGBTQ island. We're trying to be integrated into society and it will take time and work! This is a long proces that will take years and just as the white folks helped in civil rights, we'll need straight people to help our cause. Calling out "Western White ideologies" is irrelevant. I'd be scared to wake up in a world where everyone thought alike. We need to be an example of how we want people to treat us. We're pointing fingers and are so "disgusted", that we can't differentiate a true "hate" piece from an alternate perspective? Let's grow up and do the work to get our point across without claiming that everyone is trans-phobic. Deal?

Guest

Well said and respected. We may not agree on all perspectives but should have respect for each other.

Guest

BEST COMMENT - you are so right. we could all use this advice in a world that IS more diverse, yet seemingly, more hostile each day. We all must learn to 'differentiate hate from an alternate perspective' if we are to survive these times.

portofharlem

you took the words out of my mouth! it shows that white people do not have a monopoly on printing ignorance.

portofharlem

let me add the worse part was the racial identity party, since 2000 or 2010, the Census Bureau, the nation's data collector, has allowed people to self-identify themselves...so how are that has gone, I am not sure, but it is awfully arrogant for one person to what to start judging how others feel. The Census Bureau is moving away from that thought process, this person is going backward just like the current president.

Guest

Agreed.

Guest

You are absolutely correct!

1906

Many folks here are avoiding a very logical question presented by the author...if gender is a social construct and race is also a social construct...then why isnt the same energy and thought process applied with racial identity? Rachel Dolezal or any black person that decides they are indeed not what they were born as?

Logical_Larry

exactly, what you said. i thought of Rachel Dolezal when reading this. People don't want to speak on the ACTUAL premise that you stated because in doing so they will realize how silly they sound. If you believe in one then you should support the other. Rachel or anyone else should be able to pick their race.

Guest

You need people to see your side because it is the only one right. If we disagree with you we are homophobic. You have your right to you and we have our right to us.Stop trying to make me like you.

Guest

I agree

weller

Absolutely not. The writer cleverly exposed the hypocrisy that exists when it comes to race, particularly the burden that being Black is. Have you seen any white institution or sorority opening it’s doors to transgender persons.
They have the option of forming their own organizations just like blacks did. Our institutions are under attack just like Blacks have been for over 400 years in this country. Thanks Zeta Phi Beta for staying true to your mission.

voyagernx1

Well, for once Mitchell and I can agree on something.

Ryan Wilson

Of the several problems I have with this article, the one main one would be that you seem unable to differentiate between sex assigned at birth and gender identity. While sex is biological, gender identity is a social construct that is completely malleable and changes from society o societyin no way set in stone. Concepts like masculine and feminine are just a society's way of coding the ways in which individuals express themselves. Trans people aren't "choosing one's sex" like it's a fun or quirky thing to do. Trans people express themselves as they are, and we as a society mislabel and judge them for our own preconceived ideas of what they should be.

Transitioning is a process that is full of hardship and insecurity. The lack of social and legal protections afforded to trans people make the idea that they are "choosing" this life laughable. Unlike your imagined scenario of transitioning into Whiteness, transitioning gender provides few benefits outside of the mental and physical relief it can afford to the people that undergo it. It mostly just provides new dangers of losing work, housing and legal protections. Not to mention how much more vulnerable trans people are to violence.

I get that race and gender are socially imposed constructs, and as such they share parallels as modes of oppression, but it is not a 1:1 analogy. Your article really oversimplifies the ways in which they are different, and ignores the many ways in which they overlap. The "scarlet letter of color" is something that Black trans women have to deal with IN ADDITION to anti-trans prejudice. As Branford Jones said, this article really could have used the perspective of Black trans women. This article just serves to vilify Black trans women and perpetuates myths about them just being men in disguise trying to trick people.

Guest

Lol trans people are choosing their sex. That’s why it’s called transsexual......

Guest

No they don’t want to just be called the gender, they want to be accepted as the sex. Big difference. I don’t mind one wanting to identify as a different gender but when you want me to recognize you as another sex then what you actually are then that’s a problem.

Guest

This "think" piece is devoid of all rational thought. How about you NOT speak for all black sorority and fraternity members as a monolith and just title this article "I am transphobic: A tale of no research" it's just a clickbait-y, since that's obviously what you are going for here. *eyeroll*

Guest

Pretty sure the vast majority of black fraternity and sorority members think like the Zetas do and disagree with you.

Guest

This article is trash. And you completely ignore the intersections of race and sexuality. There are black transgender men and women, is their blackness discounted just because they are trans?

Guest

Actually the question presented was logical...if gender os a social construct and if race is a social construct then why dont we apply the same rubric for racial identity?

Guest

That pitch was a little fast for you. Yes intersectionality is real. But that doesn't unvalidate the reality we dont treat transracial identity the same way we do transgender...the same folks who say Laverne Cox is living "her" truth are the same ones saying Rachel Dolezal wasn't

J Mase III

In a time when Black trans women are being excluded, murdered, attacked publicly by mobs you all decide to publish garbage like this with a caveat like “The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author. They are not necessarily intended to reflect the views of The Philadelphia Tribune.”? Clearly these views do belong to you all. This Article and the fact that it is published in a Black publication that is supposed to be center Black people is cowardly.

bite

doesn't seem like you've made anything resembling a point...this is just blather about why can't I change race if someone can change gender?!?!

Philly trib has quite low standards for publication. Glad I stopped subscribing years ago

Guest

But yet your on here now commenting...what does it say about you?!

Guest

This article is damaging on so many levels. I strongly encourage this contributor to conduct background research before creating propoganda pieces on constructs and intersections they are unfamiliar with - especially when it perpetuates existing systems of oppression. It not only underscores the great work HBCUs are doing towards gender inclusion, but also minimizes identity development as a simple choice.

Guest

I fail to see how this is different than excluding African Americans or Jews from a country club. Both are excluding legally protected minority groups from a private institution. Please explain.

Guest

No one has stated the obvious: the people pushing for transacceptance were formerly known as white men. Black folks can't even be accepted as Americans just for being black. now we have to bend to accommodate the whims of the likes of Chelsea Handler and Caitlyn Jenner because they just don't feel good in their bodies? Whatever.

Guest

So you’re saying black cis people cant care for black trans people? Whackass.

Guest

Trans women are women. To proclaim anything less is to expose people to violence. Your article is promoting that. Educate yourself, remove the article and apologize.

Guest

Transwomen are not women. They MEN with a strong desire to be what they are not. NOTHING and NO ONE WILL EVER CHANGE their biological identity. We live in a society of "if it feels good do it" and everyone should welcome it. If I feel that I'm a cat stuck in mt female born body then I'm a cat because I feel strongly that I'm a cat. What rubbish!!! I reject that for my personal set of beliefs. If you dont want to identify as either Male or female now your "X". What!!! Think about the reverberation of such madness and its impact to everything. If I dont know what sex you are do you think this will not impact how I provide treatment and diagnostic testing which is based on your biological make up. This is an era of absolute madness. I dont care about your sexual orientation but this identity crisis topic is utterly exhausting and being labeled people as transphobic is a oversimplification of a complex issue that impacts both sides of the aisle. Most wont listen to another perspective as it is a emotionally reactive issue. Honestly, my thoughts are my own and very little will change it.

Guest

Women but not female

Logical_Larry

nope, they are men who think they are women

Guest

Tried to fill it out but as l told the truth something or someone blocked me out. That is ok you money will dry up.

Guest

This is disgusting, dangerous vitriol. Decolonize yourself! Transphobia (and homophobia) is unnatural social conditioning forced upon the world by European imperialists. Please don't add to the ignorance fueling the already extremely high rate of murdered trans folks every year! I am from Philadelphia originally, but now I will never read another article from the Philadelphia Tribune ever again

Guest

To claim that trans people just casually pick and choose whatever they want to be is an egregious way of thinking. Do you have any idea what the rates of suicide are amongst trans people, especially trans youth? No person would subject themselves to the mental anguish and societal violence if being trans was a choice. You should educate yourself and maybe have literally one conversation with a trans person before writing your completely disgusting opinion piece. Finding racial and transgender equality aren't mutually exclusive.

Guest

Actually there are people who specifically choose to subject themselves to harm and isolation and ridicule

Guest

I agree with you! As both parent and grandparent of Morehouse graduates, I am appalled and embarassed. Inclusiveness at the cost od exclusively is ridiculous and serves no purpose except to undermine any foundation. Boy Scouts are now Whatever Scouts. These schools and fraternities have the right to adhere to the principles upon which they were founded. While I support anyone's right to identify as whomever they want to be, I do not support infringement upon foundational principles of the organization's. I sent my kids to Morehouse to become men, not kinda, sorta men/women/transsomething.

Guest

I agree. Im sending my grandson to Morehouse to become a Morehouse Man!!!

Guest

False Assumptions:

1. Trans women are not biologically men.
2. Trans people did not choose to be of the sex opposite to the one assigned at birth. It just happened as gender identity manifest, which, BTW, gender identity is as biological as it can be.
3. Being trans and being black are not good places to do an argument for analogy because by doing so, you are pushing aside the realities of many Black trans women who, BTW, receive some of the most severe forms of violence and discrimination.
4. How will you enforce your biological women only policy? Look at people’s birth certificate? Do you know that in many states, birth certificates can be amended without having to prove a trans person had surgery? Will you inspect people’s genitals? How about those who had surgery? How will you know? Will you screen which genitals is real and which ones are suspicious? What you will end up screening out are those trans women who are open about their transness and are actively advocating for trans rights. So in reality, your policy will punish political speech. But aren’t those the women you want in the sorority? Brave women who will risk it all to fight for equality and justice?

Guest

Stop encouraging violence against trans people.

A black newspaper should be standing up for black trans people, get out of your oldhead ways.

To the person who mentioned how harshly LGBTQ people are being treated... news flash

Uh... violence is how you get into a sorority or fraternity. Ever heard of hazing?!? Oh, the irony of ya'll arguments. Identity is definitely a fragile thing for this group. But keep fighting and staying on a mission to get beaten up to join a sorority for your "equal" rights.

Guest

Insofar as the schools and sororities are concerned you make a valid point, they should be left as they were intended. It is obvious from most of the ensuing comments that we have become a society who are adept at arguing nonsense and even worse, we are believing our own nonsense. Suppose, for sake of discussion, that tomorrow I decide to be a dog. I put on my wife's fur coat, drive to the Capitol and poop on the lawn. Will I be arrested as a person? Will I be cited as the owner of a loose animal? Will animal control be called? Will someone come with a pooper scooper? Will I be rescued and adopted?

Guest

https://youtu.be/k2-e_wJthmk

Guest

Insofar as the schools and frats are concerned you make legitimate points, leave them to adhere to their foundational principles. It is very obvious from resulting comments to the article that we have become a society adept at arguing nonsense and even worse, we believe our own nonsense. I do not find the article homophobic, transfobic or hateful. It only seems to argue that these organizations should be left to identify as they were intended. Suppose, for sake of discussion, I decide I want to be a dog. I get up tomorrow morning, put on my wife's fur coat, drive to the Capitol and poop on the lawn. Will I be arrested for some reason? Will animal control come for me? Will I be cited as owner of a loose animal. Will I be rescued and potentially adopted? Am I insane?

Guest

Valid points made. The world should not have to change its traditions to fit others whims. It surely doesn't do it for people of color so why is it forced for alternative lifestyles?

Guest

Being trans isn't an alternative lifestyle, it's fudging living.

So we want everyone in the world to think like us now... unrealistic and unecessary

Why don't we see that the author is writing and arguing one perspective. Duh... there are probably over 100 perspectives on this topic. Our problem is that we have a false sense of entitlement that people should have our same values. For those who oppose the article, don't make it about hate or homophobia. How about you take time and submit your own perspective. Dialogue is a step in the right direction, but demonizing everyone who thinks differently is a waste of time. I don't need everyone on earth to accept my lifestyle in order for me to be happy or in order for me to respect them. Sometimes you just respectfully disagree and move on. Start a trans sorority/fraternity for God-sake. The danger is when any of us begin to FORCE our lifestyles on others and then call it exclusionary when others aren't receptive to it right away. You telling me that as a mother, now I'm hateful and exclusionary if I don't let a transgender woman in my mommy group? We're not all hateful and anti-transgender so don't attack everyone who doesn't quite "get it" yet. By the reactions, I see why there's still such a struggle for your cause. Elevate YOUR language and YOUR responses and maybe people will be more accepting of you.

Guest

Well said

To the person who mentioned how harshly LGBTQ people are being treated... news flash

Uh, most fraternities and sororities will whoop your a** as a part of the hazing process to get in anyway! I know, because I'm an insider in those circles. So you're saying that there's so much violence against LGBTQ people yet, ya'll are fighting to be a part of an organiztion that will require you to be privately humiliated just to gain entry... Something don't make sense to me... Ya'll are confused with your identity all the way around...

Guest

I totally agree with you on that

Guest

[sad] This is a really awful transphobic "article." It's 2019. These kinds of views are disgusting. Trans women are women, period.

Guest

John N. Mitchell has worked as a journalist for more than a quarter century. How long has he been transphobic and homophobic? Philly Trib it's time to fire this guy and hire writers with more evolved views of the world.

Cancel culture is too much. So everyone deserves to get fired if they don't agree with you?

Oh I see, you don't really want people to accept LGBTQ people, you just want people to pretend that they do. You don't want to really hear the true perspectives of others that are unlike your own. So if he gets fired (which would be a true loss), then what? You'll feel better knowing that he has a view (which MANY others share), but at least his view isn't being shared in the paper? So superficial. If you really want to change people's perspectives be willing to have a real dialogue. Don't be so sensitive that you create a false world for yourself where everyone "says" the right things, but still secretly feels a certain way. That's when people start creating systems and structures to really discriminate against you in plain sight without getting caught. And all of this over the right to join a social club? Don't you have bigger fish to fry? Black people were trying to get voting rights. Women were/are trying to get equal pay, we're fighting police brutality, and underresourced schools. You're mission is... trying to get transgender people into fraternities and soroities? Like really? I think the real issue is your mascot... pride. Because this entitled, prideful attitude is what I hear most in these comments. Black people were enslaved, beaten, and systematically killed for hundreds of years, and you think you're gonna waltz in and make your gender preference a top priority for everyone. We're still fighting other battles! It's okay if it's your priority, but if every journalist with a p.o.v. gets fired for upsetting a few readers, no one would be left. The Trib isn't here to cater to one voice. I personally love the dialogue that this article has brought forth. So firing this guy would now do what? Nothing... cuz the majority of the world things like him. So restrategize your plan LGBTQ community. We love you all, but this extreme cancel culture "fire him" nonsense isn't gonna cut it every time.

jmitchell Staff
jmitchell

f

Raina

This article is violence, it shouldn't be allowed on this site. Trans women are women and should have the right to be in a sorority of women and seen as sisters...

Guest

Where did the author suggest violence...someone questioning a narrative you believe in strongly isnt the same as inviting violence...stop being sensationalist

voyagernx1

If sex is "assigned" at birth; the question is: assigned by who? If God assigns birth then if presume God makes mistakes then God is not all powerful and all-knowing. If God is all powerful and all knowing then there is no mistake and confusion about one's gender is mental illness. If gender is biological and genetic then again, this nonsense about gender being fluid is just more nonsense. When I read this yesterday, I knew there would be a storm of responses; especially from the thin-skinned p.c. crowd who hate for anyone to express an opinion that differs from theirs and want that person silenced. We might not agree on everything but we don't have the right to vilify someone for their own opinions.

Guest

The only problem with this article is the incorrect fact of the diversity statement. The sorority never issued such a statement.

Guest

This is so incredibly offensive. PhillyTrib why would you allow this?? Trans women are women. Trans men are men. Period.

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