Transgender student finds brotherhood and support at ASU fraternity

Social work freshman Charlie Hill was nervous on his first day of school. Not knowing anyone on campus was just one reason, being a transgender student was another. Hill is now navigating college with confidence as the man he has always known he was.

Hill said he began his transition in the middle of his junior year of high school.

“My whole life people were calling me female pronouns when I knew in my heart that it was supposed to be 'he' and 'him' instead,” he said.

With the brotherhood of Sigma Phi Beta on campus, and support groups in the community, Hill said he has acclimated well and is enjoying his freshman year.

Hill said most freshmen are nervous to a certain extent, but as a transgender person, his nerves were on a whole different level.

“During my first week here, I didn’t know anybody, the classes are bigger so it’s harder to find a close friend group," Hill said. "I was just thinking, 'Where can I get the support that I need?' So I started looking into allied fraternities."

He said hehad never considered joining a fraternity before his transition because at that time he would have needed to join a sorority, he said.

“I was standing in my kitchen the night of the first fraternity event, and I said if I miss out on this I’m going to miss out of some big and really great things that are going to happen in my life,” Hill said.

He said when he met the guys at Sigma Phi Beta for the first time he knew he had found a safe place.

His support circle at ASU includes Trans*Spectrum, a programming organization for the transgender community, and one-n-ten, a Phoenix non-profit that assists LGBT youth. Now, Hill said, he also has Sigma Phi.

“Joining the fraternity, and just spending time with the brothers and my pledge brothers, it’s like family. I’ve talked to some of them about things that I’ve never talked to anyone about,” Hill said.

It took Hill a long time to be comfortable enough about his gender identity to be open about it. He described coming out to his parents as a rough experience, but they loved him regardless and accepted him for who he is.

“It blows my mind and I am so fortunate, I know so many people that don’t have the opportunities or the parents that I do,” Hill said.

Hill said he was adopted when he was 9 months old and feels blessed to have ended up with the parents he did.

Hill played french horn from seventh grade through his senior year in high school. He also sang throughout middle school and high school.

"It's funny with singing, I went from soprano to a bass," he said.

Anna Battle, assistant superintendent of operations at Tempe Union High School District, wrote in an email that Hill is bright, caring and responsible. 

"Being a musician and an exceptional student will open many doors in his career,” she wrote. 

Hill is also the president of his pledge class.

“I see a lot of potential in Charlie, he’s passionate about the community and the fraternity,” Sigma Phi Beta President Tyler Abrams said.

Abrams is Hill's big brother in the fraternity. He said Hill is an impressive pledge and he is very enthusiastic about joining the fraternity. 

“He has all that we look for when it comes to membership, I’ve seen him grow through this process and I’m excited to see what he does in the future,” Abrams said.

Related Links:

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Students, LGBT activists march for deceased transgender teen


Reach the reporter at pscottha@asu.edu or follow @sgt_preston on Twitter.

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