SPRINGFIELD, Mo. - The Xi Omicron Iota sorority at Missouri State University has changed its bylaws to accept transgender students who identify as female, The Springfield News Leader reports.

The sorority had previously required its members to “be a girl.”

Via The Springfield News Leader:

Sorority President Danielle Marquard said the bylaw change was suggested by member Kara Venzian and was enthusiastically embraced by the rest of the local Greek chapter.

“Transgender equality is a hot topic right now and it’s something everyone is paying attention to,” said Marquard, a senior in marketing. “We have a lot of open and welcoming women in the chapter.”

The change took effect immediately after a vote on Aug. 30 and was made public this week, just days ahead of the sorority’s fall recruitment push — which begins Sunday. There are currently 75 active members.

None of the sorority leaders contacted by the News-Leader knew of any transgender student attempting to pledge Xi Omicron Iota in the past, and the sorority does not yet have a transgender member.

However, Marquard said the bylaw change is “effective immediately,” so students who might be interested are welcome to participate in meet-and-greet events this month.

Liz Lersch, vice president of the sorority, said after news of the change broke this week, a transgender woman reached out to say, “Thank you.”

“She said she wished she had something like that,” Lersch said. “When I read that, it just touched my heart.”

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