A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit challenging the induction of a transgender woman into the Wyoming chapter of the Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority, court documents show.
The lawsuit was filed in March by six members of the sorority, who alleged the sorority’s chapter at the University of Wyoming limits membership to “women only” but inducted a “man” as a member.
In the ruling filed Friday, Wyoming US District Court Judge Alan Johnson noted the sorority does not “expansively” define who is a woman in its bylaws and said the court would not provide a definition.
“With its inquiry beginning and ending there, the court will not define a ‘woman’ today,” Johnson wrote.
The plaintiffs had claimed, “officials disregarded the secret voting process required by Sorority rules and after extensive behind-the-scenes direction from national Sorority officials and alumnae advisers,” according to the complaint.
The lawsuit named Kappa Kappa Gamma Fraternity, Mary Pat Rooney, the president of the fraternity council of Kappa Kappa Gamma Fraternity, Kappa Kappa Gamma Building Co, a Wyoming non-profit and a transgender student as defendants.
The lawsuit claimed that Kappa Kappa Gamma under its bylaws says that every new member must be “a woman.” Kappa Kappa Gamma’s bylaws state that it is a “single-gender” organization that is comprised of “women and individuals who identify as women.”
Johnson ruled that a federal court “may not invade Kappa Kappa Gamma’s freedom of expressive association” and could not impose the plaintiff’s definition of a woman.
Kappa Kappa Gamma applauded the court’s ruling in a statement to CNN.
“Kappa Kappa Gamma applauds the court’s ruling in Wyoming upholding a private organization’s right to choose their members. We look forward to moving past this lawsuit so we can continue the important work being done every day on behalf of all of our members,” the sorority said.
CNN has reached out to Rooney for comment on the judge’s ruling.
In a statement to CNN, attorney Cassie Craven who represents the plaintiffs said the “fundamental issue” at the center of the lawsuit remains undecided and her clients will continue their fight.
“The Court’s opinion reflects an idea that the Plaintiffs cannot agree with. Women’s rights do mean something. Women have a biological reality that deserves to be protected and recognized and we will continue to fight for that right just as women suffragists for decades have been told that their bodies, opinions, and safety doesn’t matter,” Craven said.
Rachel Berkness, an attorney representing the transgender student, told CNN her client is “proud that the court saw the allegations against her for what they are: as irrelevant, unsubstantiated, and unbefitting in federal court.”
“The court recognized that she is a transgender woman who has the same right to be a member of Kappa Kappa Gamma as any of her sisters,” Berkness said in a statement to CNN. “And although she regrets the pain and hurt this lawsuit has caused members of her sorority, she hopes this decision makes it a little harder to use of the legal system as clickbait to profit from bullying.”
In the ruling, Johnson stated the lawsuit was dismissed without prejudice, meaning the plaintiffs could still amend and attempt to refile their complaint.