The Sorority “Brother” Blues

Ok so…meet Chanise Devin Alston-Smith. In spring 2008, Devin started his intake process with the George Washington University chapter of the Zeta Phi Beta sorority. Before we go on, do note that Chanise’s preferred name is Devin and prefers to go by the male pronoun “he”. Anyway, it takes some by surprise but all is fair in love and sex during college so he crosses as a Zeta with the line-given name ” The Liberator”. And that is just the beginning.

Devin is good, he’s going to school, doing his transgendered type thing and trying to be the best Zeta he can and match everything in his closet to blue & white. But he’s having a hard time fitting in, after all he is attempting to identify and live as a male in the female focused environment that a sorority provides. Eventually, names get called, feelings get hurt and somehow Beyoncé gets involved and the saga ends with Devin destroying all of his Zeta belongings and delivering them in a trash bag to his sisters.

College is real, but damn if this isn’t something. So do you think that Devin played himself when he joined a female sorority? Or did Zeta drop-the-ball after they welcomed him in the fold? On a larger level, where exactly do gay, lesbian and trangendered people fall in the world of the greek social community? Amanda Hess at the Washington City Paper tries to break some of it down but skims over the cultural significance that is relevant to this story. Since we are learning that sexuality is becoming a bendable sliding scale (seen the L Word lately?- no, i’m still boycotting from that first episode this season…Steels) is it just that historically black fraternities and sororities may be more traditional when it comes to gender and that should have been considered? My head hurts, let’s talk it out! Big thanks to RM for the link!

Menace to Sorority

Last 5 posts by Shannon Washington

  • I’m confused. So did Devin have a sex change and physically become a boy or does he just prefer to be a boy? If he just feels more like a boy and prefers to be a boy, why would he join a female sorority? Why not try to become an Alpha? I am sure he knew what it was before he went through the process. So I don’t get the underlying problem. Homosexuality definitely exists within the Pan-Hellenic community, and for the most part is excepted openly (although when you’re working with a large group of individuals, you will always have a set of opposing ideas). However in Devin’s case, I don’t know why HE would want to become a part of a female sorority when he doesn’t even identify with being a female. There are plenty of organizations dedicated to service. Join Habitat for Humanity. Volunteer to tutor some kids after school….

  • I think there are a myriad of issues that this story presents: The evolution of sexuality and identity, social acceptance/tolerance…and just a confused young female to male transgendered kid.

    Sexuality isn’t so “straight” or “gay” anymore, so what happens when those blurred lines try to associate with traditional institutions? Very interesting….

  • D

    Hmm. I don’t know exactly why Devin would want to join a sorority if he wants to be identified as male. I know he wouldn’t be able to join a fraternity, but there are a couple of red flags in this whole situation. I really think both parties, meaning the Zetas and Devin, are at fault.

  • hulady

    Isn’t there a sorority/fraternity for lesbian/gay/bi/TG? IMHO, if she is living as a male, then she doesn’t fit the founding principles of a sorority– promoting sisterhood. Since she is still not a man, she’s stuck in the middle, and that’s where the alternative organization would seem to play a role. Like you, I believe both parties were wrong– and possibly just trying to make a statement– and feelings got hurt.

  • As a serebro hermaphrodite born this way , I dont know what it is to be transgender becouse there not related to me or my kind but I can understand what it is like to be shuned by the gay and strait cumintys becouse people fear what they dont understand , so the ferternty most likely didnt know , From what I have learnd is that transgender is about trying to be something there not , but I could be wrong . I dont know for sure.