Wyoming Sorority Members Say They Won’t Back Off Transgender Lawsuit

Six University of Wyoming sorority members suing their sorority for allegedly bending its own rules to admit a transgender member say they won't back down in response to the sorority calling their lawsuit “frivolous,” and the transgender member saying it's “vicious.”

CM
Clair McFarland

July 06, 20237 min read

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Six women suing their sorority for allegedly breaking its own rules to admit a transgender member delivered a fiery retort Wednesday in response to the sorority calling their lawsuit “frivolous” and the transgender member calling it “vicious.”  

Jaylyn Westenbroek, Hannah Holtmeier, Allison Coghan, Grace Choate, Madeline Ramar and Megan Kosar filed responses Wednesday against both the Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority and its Wyoming chapter’s first transgender inductee, Artemis Langford.  

“It is unclear why — when a large man pushes his way into an all-female space — the women who object are the bullies,” reads one of the two filings by attorneys Cassie Craven and John Knepper.

The women “are labeled attention-seeking liars, an old playbook from our history when women call out the men who force themselves upon them and their privacy,” the document continues. “But the times have changed. Women no longer must be silent victims to men who attempt to play by their own set of rules.”

Let No One Out 

Both the sorority and Langford on June 20 asked Wyoming’s U.S. District Court Judge Alan B. Johnson to dismiss the lawsuit against them.  

The sorority, its president and a Wyoming-based sorority housing corporation argue that the court doesn’t have jurisdiction over sorority President Mary Pat Rooney, the sorority can adjust its admission criteria as the definition of “woman” evolves, and the plaintiffs allegedly didn’t work with sorority leadership enough before suing.  

Langford claims the women don’t have a reason to include the inductee’s name in their lawsuit, and that their lawsuit complaint is so long and confusing it’s an unfair burden.   

The women responded Wednesday in separate filings to both motions and asked the judge to let their lawsuit continue against all the parties.  

Actually, Stay 

The women rejected both of Langford’s arguments, saying they need to include the inductee in the lawsuit because its outcome could affect Langford’s membership.  

They are not asking for money from Langford.  

Some people, says the filing, must be part of a lawsuit because the court’s ruling may “impede the person’s ability to protect (an) interest.”  

Without Langford in the lawsuit, the filing says, a decision to void the inductee’s membership could happen behind Langford’s back.

Tension In The Dining Room 

Langford’s June 20 filing accuses the women of flinging “dehumanizing mud” and attacking transgender people. The inductee also claims their complaint is long and confusing; too cumbersome for the court’s attention. 

The women’s filing acknowledges that their complaint is long, but argues that it gives relevant and well-organized facts.  

“Respectfully, Langford’s argument seems to reflect anger at the allegations made about his conduct, not ambiguity about the claims made by Plaintiffs,” says the women’s filing.  

Their April lawsuit complaint listed numerous issues with Langford’s alleged leering, gawking, lurking and intimidation while in the sorority house or around them and the many witnesses joining their lawsuit.

Langford allegedly has, “while watching members enter the sorority house, had an erection visible through his leggings,” the suit says. “Other times, he has had a pillow in his lap.”     

These allegations are relevant as underlying explanations, the women’s filing says.  

“Plaintiffs are living the reality of Langford’s biological, sex-based differences,” says the document. “When a 6’2” person who weighs 260 pounds and has benefited from male puberty sits in a sorority dining room – staring and scowling at the young women who filed a complaint with this Court – that moment is not just a disagreement among ‘us’ girls. That angry glare is a threat, a threat made possible by that man’s superior size and strength.”   

Corporate Laws 

The sorority’s arguments are also invalid, the women allege in a Wednesday response addressing the sorority.  

They reiterate that they are asking Kappa Kappa Gamma to follow its own bylaws and founding documents recognizing it as a single-sex organization.

Kappa Kappa Gamma is about 150 years old and has historically been an organization for women. The lawsuit involves breach of contract for the sorority’s alleged disregard toward its own governing documents.

The women “claim the rather unremarkable right, as members of a nonprofit corporation, to insist that the corporation follow its bylaws,” the response says. “They dispute whether it has lawfully done so.”  

A nonprofit organization’s bylaws form a contract with its members, the response continues, and members are within their rights to sue when the organization breaks its word.  

Kappa, conversely, had argued that the organization can evolve along with the word “woman,” which the group believes to be more “inclusive” now than at the sorority’s founding 150 years ago.  

Where They Felt It 

The women also say Johnson’s court does have jurisdiction over Mary Pat Rooney, KKG president.

In a effort to show Rooney’s involvement in the alleged injury, they cite past communications with sorority headquarters indicating Rooney was aware of the women’s qualms against Langford’s imminent induction into the sorority last fall, but the sorority allegedly broke its own rules to induct Langford anyway.

Rooney had argued that she has never been to Wyoming and didn’t direct any wrongful actions toward the state. The women’s filing says that because they also are suing on behalf of the sorority —by alleging that the sorority’s actions are harming the organization itself — then they can sue Rooney from the state in which the alleged injury happened.  

“Courts do not ‘ignore where the injury was actually felt,’” says the filing.  

Since September 

In response to the sorority’s claims that the women didn’t work with the organization enough before suing, the women now accuse the sorority of misrepresenting their efforts and ignoring their earlier pleas for help.  

The sorority’s argument, the women claim, “misses the extent to which the Plaintiffs, their parents and their attorneys asked for months for actions by Kappa,” says the filing, adding that the women and their parents started raising concerns as early as September. 

Kappa’s June motion centers around a letter from the women’s attorney, from November.  

Free Association 

The sorority argued last month that it can dictate the terms of its membership under the constitutional right to free association.  

The women say it can, but not without following corporate law.  

“The plaintiffs are not arguing that Kappa could never admit a man — transgender or otherwise — into its membership,” reads the filing. “(But) Kappa must faithfully follow its bylaws, which do not permit such membership until these bylaws are changed.”  

The case is ongoing.

Clair McFarland can be reached at Clair@CowboyStateDaily.com.

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Clair McFarland

Crime and Courts Reporter