By Anastasia Fox
Standing at an average height and wearing a ponytail with a baseball cap, J. Fordsman is just another one of the guys. No one would suspect that he is one of the most courageous students on this campus. “They or Them” and “He or Him” read the buttons on his shirt.
Fordsman, a freshman in the honors college double majoring in psychology and criminal justice, has made history on the LIU Post campus, becoming the first student identifying as transgender to be inducted into a fraternity. “Our organization is excited to support all of our new members through the bond of brotherhood. We’re just excited to see J and the rest of our Gamma class get initiated in December,” Phi Sigma Kappa President Nicholas Sieban said.
From a young age, Fordsman knew he was not quite like the other girls around him. Identifying as female or male goes far deeper than just your physical attributes or your biology, and Fordsman was aware that there was a disconnect between his mind and biology. After first identifying as bisexual in high school, he continued to be active in the LGBTQ community and began meeting and speaking with people to get a better understanding of who he was. “I eventually came to the conclusion that I’m something that’s NOT a girl,” he said, and decided that “trans man” was the appropriate title.
Fordsman said that he was immediately welcomed on campus when he arrived at college this fall and has not felt out of place or targeted. The idea to join a fraternity arrived during the summer. At orientation, he attended a “Meet The Greeks” event and simply asked Joseph Vernace, associate director of campus life, if there would be any problems with joining. “The most hesitation there was, was introducing myself at orientation, but once I went to the open house and met everyone, there were no questions asked,” Fordsman said. After meeting and bonding with several frat members during the summer, Fordsman ultimately decided that Phi Sigma Kappa was the fraternity for him.
There is often a negative stigma associated with fraternities and how open-minded they are – or are not. “I know people have a certain idea of what they associate with fraternity life, so this is something that I feel is going to be a good turn around for us,” O’Dell Alexander, a senior student and member of Tau Kappa Epsilon, said.
Across the country, fraternities are slowly becoming more inclusive. As of 2016, Delta Tau Delta passed a nondiscrimination policy stating that they “do not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, ethnicity, sexual orientation or gender identity.” This is a huge step in the direction of equality, tolerance and acceptance.
Many of Fordsman’s peers wanted to protect him and make sure that he wasn’t putting himself in a position to be ridiculed or targeted by being so public about his gender identity in this article. Fordsman is confident that there will be no problems and is adamant and excited to share his story to hopefully encourage or inspire some other students. “I just want them to know that this is a safe campus, and that absolutely everyone is here for you. Promise is here for you. Campus Life is here for you. I’m here for you. Everybody is here for you.”
Along with being a member of PSK, Fordsman also enjoys attending Be the Change Club events and meetings.