Phyllis Randolph Frye, longtime legal advocate for the transgender community, was sworn in this morning as the state's first transgender judge. Frye was appointed by Houston Mayor Annise Parker as an Associate Municipal Judge. The city council unanimously approved her appointment, along with a couple dozen other appointments, with little fanfare and no dissent.
The significance of the moment was not lost on Mayor Parker who fought back tears as she welcomed the appointees to the council dais. Council member Sue Lovell who, along with Parker and Frye, fought for years as a citizen to improve the lives of queer Houstonians, beamed as she spoke of how far the three of them have come. Several council members specifically thanked Frye for her willingness to serve.
It was only 30 years ago that Frye risked arrest every time she entered City Hall. At that time the City of Houston and most American cities had ordinances criminalizing cross dressing. Frye defied the law to fight for it's repeal, which finally happened in 1980.
Frye is only the third transgender judge in the country. The other two both serve in California.
Frye is nationally recognized as an expert on the legal issues facing transgender Americans. Her law firm is currently representing Nikki Araguz in the suit brought by Mrs. Araguz's late husband's ex-wife in Wharton County. The ex-wife is attempting to void the Araguz's marriage (so that she may inherit the estate of her ex-husband). The suit centers on the fact that Mrs. Araguz was originally legally recognized as male by the state of Texas and could have national ramifications for the transgender community.