Way back before I knew I was transgender, when I was a mere freshman in college, I joined a fraternity.  At the time, they were a small, close-knit, rag-tag group of guys that lived together, played video games, and did lots of nerdy things that didn’t fit at all into the typical fraternity stereotype.  I was looking for a place to live, and these guys seemed nice, so I unknowingly made a choice that would change my life forever.

As time went on, I found out that I hadn’t just found a place to live and a group of friends to hang out with.  I had found a family  — a group of guys with which I could share my greatest and worst moments, that I could learn from and teach, that I could trust with even my deepest secrets, that were always there for me especially when I most needed them, that could help me through my darkest moments.  And this family was closer than just blood, it was a bond of deep friendship and loyalty.

Of course, with this kind of bond, one should also expect great responsibility.  It is my duty to be loyal to my brothers, to be there for them when they need me, to never let them down, to ensure they have the guidance necessary to make the right choices and walk the right path.  And that responsibility lasts until the end of time, for not even death can break those bonds.

And that’s why I never thought twice about what my brothers would think when I came out to them.  I knew they would be there for me no matter what because that’s what any brother would do.  Even if they are a sister.

Of course, the bonds of a fraternity are only as strong as its weakest link.  And when that link threatens the strength of bonds as a whole, sometimes it must be snapped in order to forge a stronger one.  Through my years in the fraternity, I’ve seen this happen more than once, and it is always difficult and painful, but we pull through stronger than before, we learn from our mistakes, and we support those most hurt by the break.  One of my brothers learned this firsthand this weekend, and although he hurts now, I know he will come out stronger than before.

And that’s really what a fraternity is supposed to do, isn’t it?  It provides the catalyst to strengthen the bonds of friendship and brotherly love, no matter the circumstance.  Race, gender, sexual preference, religion, political background, upbringing, family — none of those matter.  What matters are the bonds you create and your passion to maintain and strengthen them, no matter the cost.  For once you take that oath, you and I are eternally bonded, and as long as you maintain your side of that oath, I will ensure my side never weakens.