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Phyllis Frye Appointed Houston’s First Transgender Municipal Court Judge

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Phyllis Randolph Frye

By Josef Molnar

Phyllis Randolph Frye, a long-time Houston transgender attorney and advocate, has been appointed to Houston’s municipal court system.

The appointment marks the first of its kind for the city of Houston and the state of Texas, and makes her one of a handful of transgender judges in the nation, including California’s recently elected Victoria Kolakowski. Mayor Annise Parker nominated Frye to the position, and city council unanimously approved the appointment.

In a City Hall press conference on Nov. 17, Parker praised Frye’s more than 30 years of legal experience and other professional qualifications, which she said made Frye “a great addition” to the city’s judiciary. Frye’s work will allow her to work on court cases for the city, such as traffic tickets and the like, and will occasionally require her to judge cases.

“She is an associate municipal judge, which will give us a chance to put her through her paces a little,” Parker said. “I’m very proud that I was able to nominate her, and she agreed to serve.”

Frye will continue to represent her clients with Frye & Associates, although she will not personally represent her clients in municipal cases.

She was surprised at the outpouring of support and attention she has received from around the nation.

“I hope my appointment gives people courage, and gives other mayors and appointive bodies the courage to appoint other transgendered persons to the bench,” Frye said. “I was cognizant of the significance of the appointment, but I did not know just how big this was going to be nationally.”

When asked about any future plans to run for an elected office, Frye said she is happy to focus on her work with the city.

“That is not on my radar right now,” she said. “I am thoroughly and completely enjoying my law practice with my six-person firm, and I am thoroughly enjoying the wake of the news. This has been an interesting and fulfilling and exciting ride.” —Josef Molnar

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