October 06, 2017

ABA names recipients of 2018 Stonewall Award honoring LGBT advancements in the legal profession

CHICAGO, Oct. 3, 2017 — Three longstanding LGBT legal activists will be honored by the American Bar Association Commission on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity with its sixth annual Stonewall Award during a ceremony on Feb. 3, 2018, at the ABA Midyear Meeting in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

Named after the New York City Stonewall Inn police raid and riot of June 28, 1969, which was a turning point in the gay rights movement, the award recognizes lawyers who have considerably advanced lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals in the legal profession and successfully championed LGBT legal causes. 

The 2017 award recipients:  

Phyllis Randolph Frye, an associate judge for the Municipal Courts in Houston, is the first openly transgender judge appointed in Texas. Born as Phillip Frye, she is an Eagle Scout and was a member of the Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps. Frye graduated from Texas A&M University with a B.S. in civil engineering and an M.S. in mechanical engineering. She was honorably discharged from the U.S. Army in 1972, transitioned in 1976 and earned an M.B.A. and J.D. from the University of Houston. In 1992, she convened the first International Conference on Transgender Law & Employment Policy in Houston. In 2010, Houston Mayor Annise Parker appointed Frye as an associate judge for the City of Houston Municipal Courts and the Houston City Council unanimously approved her appointment. Frye retains her senior partnership with Frye, Oaks, Benavidez & O’Neil PLLC, where she devotes her practice exclusively to taking transgender clients – both adults and minors – through the Texas courts to change the clients’ names and genders on their legal documents. In 2013, Frye was presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Transgender Foundation of America.

Eduardo Juarez is a supervisory trial attorney with the San Antonio Field Office of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, where he litigates individual, class and systemic lawsuits under the federal civil rights statutes prohibiting employment discrimination. In August 2011, he worked on detail as special assistant to Chai Feldblum, the first out lesbian EEOC commissioner. His work in the LGBT legal community led to accolades, including the 2014 EEOC Pride “Chai Feldblum Award” for his significant contributions to the LGBT community. Juarez is a former public defender in Washington, D.C., and began his legal career as an associate with the law firm of Sidley & Austin in Chicago. He received his B.A. from the University of Notre Dame and his law degree from the University of Michigan. Active in various LGBT political and professional organizations, he is a past president and first Hispanic openly gay man of the National LGBT Bar Association and past chair of the LGBT Law Section for the State Bar of Texas.

Jennifer L. Levi is the director of GLAD’s Transgender Rights Project and a nationally recognized expert on transgender legal issues. She co-edited “Transgender Family Law: A Guide to Effective Advocacy,” the first book to address legal issues facing transgender people in the family law context and provide practitioners the tools to effectively represent transgender clients. Levi has served as counsel in a number of precedent-setting cases establishing basic rights for transgender people, including: O’Donnabhain v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue, which established that medical care relating to gender transition qualifies as a medical deduction for federal income tax purposes; Doe v. Yunits, in which she represented a transgender student denied the right to attend school because of the clothing she wore; and Adams v. Bureau of Prisons, which successfully challenged a federal prison policy excluding medical care for transgender inmates who came into the system without a transition-related medical plan, among many others. She also has worked on several high-profile family law cases including the Miller v. Jenkins case establishing full parental rights for a Vermont civil union spouse and cases in Connecticut and Massachusetts that established the right of same-sex couples to marry. Levi is a law professor at Western New England University School of Law in Springfield, Mass. She serves on the Legal Committee of the World Professional Association for Transgender Health and is a founding member of both the Transgender Law & Policy Institute and the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition. A graduate of Wellesley College and the University of Chicago Law School, Levi is a former law clerk to Judge Michael Boudin at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit.

“The American Bar Association is pleased to recognize these three gay rights pioneers. Each has been a forceful voice for LGBT inclusion and legal progress,” said Mark Johnson Roberts, chair of the ABA Commission on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity.

The ABA Commission on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity leads the ABA’s commitment to diversity, inclusion and full and equal participation by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in the ABA, the legal profession and society. Created in 2007, the commission seeks to secure equal treatment in the ABA, the legal profession and the justice system without regard to sexual orientation or gender identity.

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