Federal court dismisses appeal of lawsuit contesting transgender woman in Wyoming sorority

DENVER (AP) — A federal court on Wednesday dismissed the appeal of a lawsuit that challenged a transgender woman’s acceptance into a sorority at the University of Wyoming, ruling it did not have jurisdiction to hear the case.

The lawsuit could not be appealed because a lower court judge in Wyoming left open the possibility of refiling it in his court, the three-judge U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver determined.

The case involving Artemis Langford, a transgender woman admitted into the Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority chapter in Laramie, drew widespread attention as transgender people fight for more acceptance in schools, athletics, workplaces and elsewhere, while others push back.

The sorority argued it had wide leeway to interpret its own bylaws, including defining who is a woman, but six sorority sisters argued in a lawsuit for a narrower interpretation.

Last summer, U.S. District Judge Alan Johnson in Cheyenne dismissed the case without prejudice in a ruling that suggested the lawsuit could be refiled in his court.

The appellate judges sided with sorority attorneys who argued the case was not ready for the appeals court. The question elicited the most discussion before the judges during oral arguments in May.

An attorney for the sorority sisters, May Mailman, declined to comment on the ruling. An attorney for the sorority, Natalie McLaughlin, did not return messages seeking comment.

The sorority sisters’ lawsuit against Kappa Kappa Gamma and its president, Mary Pat Rooney, claimed Langford made them feel uncomfortable in the sorority house. Langford was dropped from the lawsuit on appeal.

The arguments hearing drew a small demonstration outside a federal courthouse in Denver with women holding signs that read “Save Sisterhood” and “Women have the right to women’s only spaces.”

Mead Gruver, The Associated Press