‘Just fabulous’: Chapman alum reflects on their lasting legacy

Addison Rose Vincent advocated for all-gender restrooms during their time at Chapman, which is now hosted each year. This year’s All-Gender Restroom Day was Oct. 29. Courtesy of Addison Rose Vincent

After being the target of harassment, stares and laughter in gendered bathrooms Addison Rose Vincent, a 2015 Chapman alumni, was frustrated with the lack of all-gender bathrooms on campus as a transgender and nonbinary person.

“In the men’s bathroom, I faced a lot of stares, harassment and people just telling me that I am in the wrong bathroom. I was told that multiple times,” Vincent said. “In the women’s bathroom, I would get stares, laughs and sometimes felt that I made them feel unsafe.”

Vincent is a self-proclaimed “transfeminine, genderqueer, proud feminist activist and community organizer,” who on their first day at Chapman in 2010 came out as gay. Three years later, Vincent came out as transgender “after years of playing with drag and gender nonconformity, especially while on Semester at Sea and studying abroad at Oxford University.”

During Vincent’s senior year at Chapman, they advocated for All-Gender Restroom Day — an event focused on bringing awareness to all gender bathrooms — after the struggles they faced as a transgender and nonbinary person using gendered bathrooms. All-Gender Restroom Day continues at Chapman, it was held on Oct. 29.

Along with advocating for All-Gender Restroom Day, Vincent, excited to be involved in Greek life, was the first openly transgender person to rush for a sorority. Vincent was denied recruitment to seven of eight sororities, with the exception of Delta Gamma, because the chapters had strict policies that defined a “woman” as being cisgender, a person whose gender identity is the sex that they were assigned at birth.

Unaware of the strict gender policies, Vincent participated in recruitment weekend, despite multiple complaints made to the Panhellenic Greek Coordinator regarding Vincent’s gender.

The following week, Vincent remembered feeling that they weren’t going to receive any sorority bids.

“All these freshman girls were crying because they didn’t get Delta Gamma or Alpha Phi,” Vincent said. “So I get a bid and I start laughing because the only one on my list was Delta Gamma. That was the last one I ever thought wanted me. It was so surreal.”

While celebrating their 21st birthday, Vincent got a call from “the sorority coach” saying, “You actually have not been invited back for Delta Gamma and this is the end of your sorority recruitment.” Ultimately, Vincent believed they were rejected by Delta Gamma because they and the sorority didn’t “share the same values and needs.”

“I cried because I was so excited to be a part of (Greek life),” Vincent said. “It was a week after that I was just so grateful for the experience. I sadly learned that a lot of (chapters) have policies against people like me and at the time it really shook people up.”

Vincent was unsuccessful in developing a gender neutral “fra-rority,” due to the inability to pay a required $1 million insurance policy. However, Vincent was able to participate in Delta Queens — a Delta Tau Delta fundraiser that allows each Greek organization to choose a woman to compete — after receiving a nomination from Alpha Delta Phi and was titled Miss Congeniality.

Since leaving Chapman, Vincent’s advocacy for all-gender bathrooms continued to grow. They started their own business, Break The Binary LLC — a consulting firm focused on building a more understanding and affirming world for LGBTQ+ people — and does trainings on nonbinary and transgender identities. Vincent also does strategic planning to help businesses and organizations implement all-gender bathrooms and make current restrooms more accessible.

Harold Hewitt, the Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, said Chapman now requires new buildings and major renovations to include all-gender bathrooms, which Vincent said is “just fabulous.”

“My passion and advocacy for all-gender bathrooms has definitely grown,” Vincent said. “It’s been awesome to see the work that has happened since and to know that there is a legacy of the work I did during my time at Chapman.”