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Dispute over transgender woman admitted to fraternity in Wyoming to be argued before appellate judges

DENVER (AP) — A U.S. appeals court in Denver will hear arguments Tuesday in a lawsuit filed by six members of a University of Wyoming fraternity challenging the admission of a transgender woman to their local chapter.

A Wyoming judge dismissed the lawsuit last year, ruling that he could not overrule the way the private, volunteer organization defined a woman and order that she not belong.

The case at Wyoming’s only four-year public university has drawn widespread attention as transgender people fight for greater acceptance in schools, athletics, the workplace and elsewhere, while others push back.

In their lawsuit, six members of the Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority chapter dispute Artemis Langford’s confession by casting doubt on whether sorority rules allow for a transgender woman.

The lawsuit and appeal detail how Langford’s presence made the women feel uncomfortable at the sorority house in Laramie, Wyoming, but sorority leaders overruled their concerns after a vote by local chapter members to allow Langford to let.

Last summer in Cheyenne, Wyoming U.S. District Court Judge Alan Johnson sided with the fraternity and Langford in ruling that the fraternity’s bylaws do not define who is a woman.

Before the three-judge panel of the U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver, attorneys for the six sororities continue to argue that sorority leaders ignored sorority bylaws, which they argue should not allow transgender women to be members.

Johnson’s ruling gave too much deference to sorority leaders by allowing them to define a woman among membership requirements, the sorority sisters argue on appeal.

Unlike in the original lawsuit, Langford is not involved in the appeal. The national sorority Kappa Kappa Gamma and its president, Mary Pat Rooney, are the current defendants.

The appeal brings new attention to transgender students, as the Kappa Kappa Gamma sororities in the lawsuit, their attorney and others plan a “save sisterhood” meeting at the courthouse before the hearing.