Houston mayor appoints longtime transgender activist as associate municipal judge

Phyllis Randolf Frye

Phyllis Randolf Frye

Phyllis Randolf Frye

HOUSTON — Mayor Annise Parker has appointed Houston attorney and longtime transgender activist Phyllis Randolph Frye as an associate municipal judge. Frye will become the first transgender judge in Texas and only the third in the country.

The announcement came at yesterday’s city council meeting, and the council unanimously approved the appointment.

The significance of the moment was not lost on Mayor Parker who fought back tears as she welcomed the appointees to the council dais. [via Legislative Queery]

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.

But not everyone is happy about the appointment.

Dave Welch, Executive Director of the Houston Area Pastoral Council, which represents about 300 churches, says for years Frye has been “undermining Texas marriage laws.” He says the appointment confirms Mayor Parker, who is openly gay, is making her lifestyle a central part of her policy agenda.

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