Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Trans Pioneer Phyllis Frye Becomes Texas' First Trans Judge

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.


  1. I am so thrilled to hear this. Phyllis will make a great judge. She has certainly earned it.

  2. Wow, this is certainly groundbreaking news. Only the 3rd trans-gender judge in the country!? And in Texas?! Annise Parker is certainly making progress in this city, state, country, and world. Also, I was unaware of the cross-dressing laws in place in those days. Hopefully the momentum will continue.

  3. @Chris - the Law in Houston was known as the "Mask Law" it also prohibited women from wearing pants that zipped up the front. HPD, when raiding lesbian bars, used the law to round up every woman wearing blue jeans.

  4. Congratulations to both Phyllis and thank you to Mayor Parker and all those voting in progess.

  5. Congratulations! I hope that Judge Frye is a fair and impartial advocate for all the people who appear in her court.

    Does she have to separate herself from her law firm while serving as an active judge? As such she certainly would be recused from participating in any way with a lawsuit brought by her own firm I would suspect.

  6. Congratulations to her Honor! (Loved her move with the Wicks' wedding in 2000.)

  7. @Anonymous - Associate Municipal Judges work part time, usually nights and weekends and filling in as substitutes when Municipal Judges are unavailable (and of course only hearing municipal matters)most Associate Municipal Judges are also full time lawyers. Considering the type of work Frye and Associates generally handles it is unlikely that Judge Frye would ever be in the position of hearing a case in which one of the clients was represented by her firm.