WASHINGTON, D.C.  – Women’s Liberation Front, Women’s Declaration International USA, and more than 450 Kappa Kappa Gamma Alumnae filed briefs in support of the Wyoming Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority sisters, represented by Independent Women’s Law Center (IWLC) in Westenbroek v. Kappa Kappa Gamma. These groups bolstered IWLC’s arguments that Kappa owes its young women the sisterhood they signed up for. 

Earlier this month, IWLC filed the opening brief in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, representing six women in Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority who were forced to initiate a man into their chapter.

“These powerful briefs show that women from all walks of life and across the political spectrum do not want to be erased or diminished to something in one’s head, as if womanhood can be reduced to thinking lady-thoughts or wearing a dress,” said May Mailman, senior fellow at Independent Women’s Law Center. “They show that women benefit tremendously from the safety, comfort, and freedom in women’s-only spaces and that women have the right to these spaces.” 

Amicus Brief by Women’s Declaration International USA states, in part:

The concept of “gender identity” manipulates offensive, regressive, sexist stereotypes for a particularly harmful purpose—to deny women the coherent, objective legal taxonomy that anchors the jurisprudence of women’s rights.  On its face, ‘gender identity’ refers to a person’s subjective identity, not to his or her sex, and appears to be defined by whatever feeling the person has of what it means to ‘be of the gender with which he or she identifies’ and whatever expression the person gives that feeling.  When men and boys claim to ‘identify as’ women or girls, ‘gender identity’ reduces women to regressive stereotypes about what it means to be female, deprives women of agency to define their role in the world for themselves, and subjects women to sex-based discrimination.

There are several examples of how lesbians are uniquely affected by the existence of laws, policies, and practices, such as KKG’s policy of admitting men who claim to ‘identify as women.’  Lesbians have been told that they are not permitted to meet in public without the presence of men who claim to ‘identify as women,’ effectively putting them back in the proverbial closet… Lesbian bars no longer exist because they have been overrun with men who claim to ‘identify as women.’ Lesbians are harassed openly and with impunity for rejecting the notion that men can be women if they claim to ‘identify as women.’ Lesbians, along with other women who reject ‘gender identity,’ are physically attacked when they try to speak out about their rights in public places. Lesbian girls and other nonconforming girls are being told they are probably boys and are having their bodies mutilated with irreversible hormones and surgeries that will not only sterilize them and harm their hearts and bones, but will also likely preclude sexual gratification, forever.

Amicus Brief by 450+ Kappa Alumni states, in part:

The upshot of redefining “woman” to include man is the effective erasure of women as a separate class worthy of dignity and respect. Compounding the injury, by forcing fundamental change upon KKG without adhering to the democratic procedures for bylaw amendment mandated by KKG’s own governing documents, Defendants silenced the voices of the thousands of KKG women entitled to have a say in this transformation.

The District Court, in refusing to allow Plaintiffs to hold Defendants to account, condoned this undemocratic conduct. In so doing, that court also failed to consider the continued importance of women-only spaces and organizations in American life. A multitude of studies make clear that women-only organizations help women thrive by providing safety, belonging, opportunities to lead, and a plethora of other benefits. Amici are living proof of these benefits, as the stories they share below show. Remaking KKG to include men, albeit men who “identify” as women, will deprive current and future generations of KKG women of these benefits.

Amicus Brief by Women’s Liberation Front states, in part:

Kappa seeks to redefine “woman” to include members of both sexes (who don’t even have to “identify” as women) and redefine “sex” to mean one’s subjective state of mind (which doesn’t have to be male or female) instead of one’s reproductive class. However, all other regulations and provisions that address sex, or men and women, are based on the presumption that objective differences exist between the sexes, and that these differences matter. Rules meant to address or prevent pregnancy, for example, are meaningless if women can impregnate one another or one’s status as a male or female gives no information as to whether they are a member of the sex that commits nearly all rape, or the member of the sex that can become forcibly impregnated. All the justification Kappa gives for being a women-only organization, for having rules limiting the presence and movement of men, are meaningless if any man can join, even if he doesn’t say he is a woman, as long as he doesn’t say he is a man.

While feminism has sought to improve women’s status by dismantling sex-stereotyping, the concept of “transgender” depends on the continued existence of these same sex-stereotypes. Girls and women are female whether or not they look or act in a stereotypically feminine manner. To believe that sex is determined by a gendered soul or feminine appearance, rather than biology, is to believe that femininity is the same thing as being female. This belief is offensive and harmful to women and antithetical to civil rights jurisprudence.

List of Westenbroek v. Kappa Kappa Gamma briefs:

Opening Brief (December 4, 2023)

Amicus Brief by 450+ Kappa Alumni (December 11, 2023)

Amicus Brief by Women’s Declaration International USA (December 11, 2023)

Amicus Brief by Women’s Liberation Front (December 11, 2023)

Kappa Kappa Gamma was founded in 1870 by six college women who bravely stood together to create a supportive place for women to live, learn and together face the challenges of their university experience. Over the decades, sororities have heralded the benefits and values of a single-sex environment to develop women’s life and leadership skills. By redefining the word “woman,” Kappa Kappa Gamma leadership has eliminated the promise of a single-sex space for women.

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Independent Women’s Law Center advocates for equal opportunity, individual liberty, and the continued legal relevance of biological sex.
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