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Houston judge Phyllis Randolph Frye to receive Stonewall Award for advocating LGBT rights

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Houston judge Phyllis Randolph Frye to receive Stonewall Award for advocating LGBT rights

By John Glynn

CHICAGO, Oct. 3, 2017 — the American Bar Association Commission on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity will honor Phyllis Randolph Frye, associate judge for the Municipal Courts in Houston, with its Stonewall Award during a ceremony on Feb. 3, 2018, at the ABA Midyear Meeting in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

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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. 

“Phyllis Frye has been instrumental in moving America’s queer community to include and embrace the hopes and aspirations of its transgender members,” said Mark Johnson Roberts, chair of the ABA Commission on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity. “As Jennifer Levi, another Stonewall recipient, said: ‘Phyllis advocated for and spoke on behalf of the LGBTQ community at a time when there was no transgender visibility and when anti-transgender hostility was open and aggressive. In the face of adversity, Phyllis’ work was steadfast. She laid the groundwork and had the vision that is the foundation of today’s advocacy.”

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.

A photo of Frye is available for download here.

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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