Photo Credits: Wikimedia
According to their website, Sigma Alpha Epsilon Pi (SAEPi) is the youngest Jewish sorority in the United States. Focused on being "Jewish First, Greek Second," SAEPi bridges the gap between the Jewish and Greek Letter Organization communities to create a unique environment that Jewish women can call their own. The same religious sorority has named a trans woman as their president. Elliot Draznin, now the president of SAEPi ,came out to the sorority sisters as nonbinary, identifying neither as a man or woman about a year ago. Draznin asked to be referred to using “they” as a singular pronoun instead of “she.”
Genderqueer, also known as non-binary, is a catch-all category for gender identities that are not exclusively masculine or feminine—identities which are outside the gender binary and cisnormativity. Non-binary people may express a combination of masculinity, femininity or neither in their gender expression.
“It was a lot of deciding that I believe in this mission, so even though I don’t identify as a woman, I’m going to stay in this gendered space to keep the idea of a Jewish space for women alive on the University of Cincinnati’s campus,” Draznin told JTA last week.
In August, SAEPi, which was founded in 1998 and has 23 chapters and colonies across the country, changed its policy to make it clear that transgender and gender nonconforming people are welcome as members.
The decision was prompted both by Draznin and two other transgender individuals joining the sorority, as well as conversations happening around inclusion with other Greek organizations, according to executive director Chayla Furlong. “Both our campus partners and the national organization share the responsibility of ensuring that students who maybe don’t identify as cisgender or heteronormative have the opportunity to know explicitly where they are going to have the most positive, inclusive and welcoming experience,” she said.
“I’ve faced a decent amount of backlash from professors and other students,” Draznin said. “Not being outright cruel but just a general ‘I don’t understand this, so I don’t really know how to treat you as a student and as a peer.’ I’ve had a peer in a class tell me that trans people don’t exist.”
Link to the video: