Alpha Chi Omega to admit transgender women

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COLUMBIA - The national college sorority Alpha Chi Omega will now admit transgender women.

The sorority posted a Facebook video Friday by its national president, Angela Costley Harris.

She said Alpha Chi Omega is committed to being a woman's organization, but needs to stay relevant.

"Alpha Chi must be inclusive of all who live and identify as women regardless of their gender assigned at birth," Harris said.

The announcement was made in response to chapter inquiries across the nation on the status of LGBTQ individuals as members.

The changes will not include transgender men and the sorority website states "Alpha Chi Omega is committed to protecting the right of Alpha Chi Omega chapters to be single-sex organizations."

Taylor Dailing, University of Missouri chapter president, said the change is positive. 

"I thought it was awesome. We're all very excited about it," she said.

She said the announcement won't change anything about recruitment over the summer and it's more of an affirmation of what the local chapter has already been doing.

While comments on the Facebook post were mostly positive, some people raised concerns about allowing men in the chapter houses after hours. 

Kerry Ann Gilmour wrote, "I wholeheartedly disagree with this decision. Will you be allowing these men to live in the Alpha Chi houses and at the same time not allowing other men to visit at late hours?"

Mary Jane Thomas Stuart said, "I am very disappointed and am withdrawing all support including recruiting."

Alex Hancher, a sophomore member at Alpha Chi Omega, said she thinks the move is a positive step for all of Greek life.

"This just makes it seem like we're one step closer to all of Greek life being that much more inclusive for anyone who wants to join and to me that's huge."

Gabrielle Gresge, the MU Panhellenic Association President, said similar changes could be on the way at the organizational level. 

"This is a burgeoning movement throughout a lot of Greek systems and I know that we as PHA are actually going through a by-law audit right now,"

Representatives from MU's LGBTQ Resource Center were not available to comment.

The Center Project, a Columbia LGBTQ community center and non-profit organization, sent the following statement:

"The Center Project supports the progress that Alpha Chi Omega has made. By accepting trans women into their organization, Alpha Chi Omega has furthered LGBTQ values and enriched the lives of trans women. These women can now feel comfortable and know they matter at Alpha Chi Omega."