The Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority facing a lawsuit for admitting a transgender member into its Wyoming chapter filed a fiery legal response Tuesday, asking the U.S. District Court for Wyoming to dismiss the lawsuit.
A group of Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority members sued the sorority’s parent organization, its president Mary Pat Rooney, and its Wyoming-based nonprofit housing corporation in March for allegedly bending its own rules to induct transgender member Artemis Langford.
The six sorority members also have named Langford in the lawsuit, though they are not asking for monetary damages from Langford.
“Plaintiffs’ legal claims are baseless,” countered the three defendants (not including Langford) in a Tuesday response to the lawsuit complaint. Dismissing this case will “show their supporters and others who may seek the courts for their own political purposes that funding frivolous litigation is not the way to resolve disputes or effect change.”
Dismissing the suit also would let the sorority’s Wyoming chapter begin rebuilding from what Kappa called “the significant harm that Plaintiffs and their supporters have unleashed on this organization and the chapter they profess to love.”
Kappa says the suit doesn’t have grounds to proceed because the women failed to show the court has jurisdiction over the Kappa Kappa Gamma Building Co., or personal jurisdiction over Rooney.
To show federal jurisdiction over the Wyoming-based building company the women would have to invoke a federal law or $75,000 in damages, says the sorority’s response, which alleges that they failed to do that.
To show the federal court has personal jurisdiction over Rooney the women would have to show Rooney, an Illinois resident, purposefully directed her actions toward Wyoming, and the women suffered for her actions. The sorority claims the women failed to show that.
Langford had not filed a response to the lawsuit as of publication time.
What Is A Woman?
The lawsuit centers around the definition of the word “woman.”
The sorority members said in their lawsuit that because Kappa’s governing documents define it as an organization for women, the organization has harmed itself and broken its own rules by deviating from those terms, to admit a male. The sorority changed the voting systems and entry criteria to ensure Langford’s induction, the women also claim.
But Kappa’s response says the word “woman” has evolved since the organization’s founding 150 years ago.
“Nowhere in (our founding) documents can Plaintiffs find their restrictive definition of the term ‘woman,’” says the sorority’s filing.
Kappa Kappa Gamma in 2015 dispatched a public document saying it admits people who identify as women.
While the sorority members allege that this document isn’t enough to reverse 150 years of governing documents, Kappa says it can direct its membership at every turn under the relevant case law.
“The term (woman) is unquestionably open to many interpretations,” says the sorority’s filing.
The plaintiffs define “woman” as “an adult human female.”
Kappa said this definition also would exclude precocious members who attend college and join the sorority at age 17, before they’re adults.
The sorority referenced 2020 U.S. Supreme Court Case Bostock vs. Clayton County, in which the high court decided that firing someone for being gay or transgender is as discriminatory as firing them for being male or female.
“If the Supreme Court can reasonably interpret ‘discrimination because of sex’ to prohibit discrimination based upon someone’s transgender status … surely Kappa as a private organization can reasonably interpret its own bylaws to be similarly inclusive,” says the sorority’s response.
Don’t Sue Us
The sorority is asking U.S. District Court Judge Alan B. Johnson to drop the lawsuit against its parent organization because of changing views around the word “woman,” and court precedents giving private organizations the ability to direct their own membership.
The women didn’t work with sorority leadership enough to remedy the situation, so they can’t claim their lawsuit is necessary to save the organization from its own devices, Kappa Kappa Gamma also alleges.
Different Parties, Different Pronouns
The sorority sisters called Langford “he” and “him” throughout their March complaint. They asked Johnson to keep themselves and Langford anonymous at that time.
The sorority’s filing calls Langford “she” and “her.”
Johnson didn’t allow pseudonymity: he ordered the women to give their names to proceed in the lawsuit. He also said there was no point in keeping Langford anonymous because the inductee already was a public figure and known to the media.
One of the original seven plaintiffs dropped out of the lawsuit. Six remained to give their names and have become a focal point for national media outlets covering transgender and women’s-rights issues.
They allege in their lawsuit that Langford, though not yet an official tenant at the UW sorority house, has access to the house’s women’s-only spaces and often ogles women, sometimes while the women are in various states of undress, and sometimes with “an erection visible through his leggings.”
The sorority’s response rails against these allegations, calling them “false” and “inflammatory.”
“The greatest wrongs in this case are not the ones the Plaintiffs and their supporters imagine they have suffered, but the ones they have inflicted,” says the sorority’s filing.
After the women and their attorney, Cassie Craven, had interviews in the national media, an anonymous man left a threatening message against Kappa in response to those interviews calling them “woke pieces of (f***ing) human garbage” and threatening to destroy the organization, the filing claims.
The sorority sisters also reported backlash when they made their request for pseudonymity.
Just Leave, Sorority Says
If the women don’t like living in a place a transgender person can access, says the sorority’s response, they can leave the sorority.
“Plaintiffs can also resign their membership in the organization if a position of inclusion is too offensive to their personal values,” says the response.
The women, conversely, argued in their complaint that they should have the opportunity to be part of a sisterhood, and they’ve all pledged not to enter another sorority as part of their induction requirements.
When they joined the sorority, the women alleged in March, they didn’t realize they were joining an organization that would induct males.
Clair McFarland can be reached at Clair@CowboyStateDaily.com.