FEDERAL JUDGE DENIES ANONYMITY REQUEST IN LAWSUIT AGAINST KAPPA KAPPA GAMMA OVER TRANSGENDER MEMBER AT UNIVERSITY OF WYOMING

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A federal judge has denied a request from seven women to remain anonymous in their lawsuit against Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority for inducting transgender member Artemis Langford at the University of Wyoming. U.S. District Court Judge Alan B. Johnson filed his second order on Friday, stating that the plaintiffs had made accusations of impropriety against the defendants and must now shoulder the burden of those accusations in the public eye.

The seven women filed their lawsuit on March 27, claiming that the sorority had breached its duty to them by inducting a transgender member after leading them to believe they were joining a sisterhood. The suit also alleged that the local housing organization for the sorority breached its contract with the induction of a male.

Langford is not yet living in the sorority house but has been visiting often and is scheduled to live there in the coming months, according to court documents. The women claim that Langford ogles them, sometimes with an erection visible through his leggings and often at awkward or vulnerable moments. They also expressed apprehension about living in the same house as Langford, especially since the bathroom doors do not lock. Langford is 6-foot-2 and weighs 260 pounds, according to the lawsuit complaint.

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The women made two requests to proceed anonymously in the case under “Jane Doe” pseudonyms, citing safety concerns in light of growing violence around transgender issues. However, Johnson denied both requests, stating that their generalized safety concerns did not outweigh the public’s right to follow the case, including the parties’ names.

The women argued that as sorority-house residents, everyone knows where they live, and they defended themselves against potential home attacks by noting that people do not yet know which of the 40 sorority members they are. They also claimed that the case was unique because it forced the court to contemplate the definition of the word “woman.” However, Johnson said this argument cut both for and against their pleas for anonymity by emphasizing the public’s investment in the proceedings.

While the case involves the women’s personal living space and some private matters, Johnson said in his April 6 order that the claims themselves are of breach of contract and breach of fiduciary duty. He also noted that federal lawsuits are often above-the-fold news and that this case had garnered intense national interest.

The women’s second request for anonymity cited a recent attack on women’s-rights activist Riley Gaines, a Nashville school shooting by a transgender person, and a controversial meme that Wyoming Rep. Karlee Provenza, D-Laramie, posted this month. However, Johnson said these events still did not demonstrate specific, personal threats of harm against the women.

Johnson referred to Langford, who gave an October interview to university newspaper the Branding Iron about being the first transgender inductee of Kappa Kappa Gamma’s Wyoming chapter. The women argued in their second plea for anonymity that Langford had chosen to become a public figure, but they had not.

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Johnson gave the women until April 20 to reveal their true names if they wish to proceed in the case, stating that the case was not so exceptional that the University of Wyoming police department could not handle their protection. He also noted that he could not find a single instance in which the Tenth Circuit encompassing Wyoming’s federal courts granted pseudonymity due to the risk of physical harm, nor did the women show that the case was of a highly sensitive and personal nature, which is another criterion by which plaintiffs have received anonymity in past cases.

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