#TransgenderAwarenessWeek: Transgender lawyers that inspire us


Posted on November 16th, 2015 by Elizabeth Boylan

In honor of #TransgenderAwarenessWeek, each day this week we will be posting a blog about a group of persons in the transgender community to highlight the diversity of transgender individuals’ experiences, and to honor transgender individuals who are advocating for changes in law and policy that will support the transgender and other marginalized communities in the United States and around the world.  On Friday, November 20th, in honor of #TransgenderDayofRemembrance/#TDOR, we will honor the individuals we have lost this year to violence.

As we are the Center for Gender and Sexuality Law, we thought it would be fitting if we start off our week of tribute by honoring lawyers and legal professionals in the transgender community who inspire us.

Dean Spade

“Dean Spade is an Associate Professor at Seattle University School of Law. He teaches Administrative Law, Poverty Law, and Law and Social Movements.  Prior to joining the faculty of Seattle University, Dean was a Williams Institute Law Teaching Fellow at UCLA Law School and Harvard Law School, teaching classes related to sexual orientation and gender identity law and law and social movements.

In 2002, Dean founded the Sylvia Rivera Law Project, a non-profit law collective that provides free legal services to transgender, intersex and gender non-conforming people who are low-income and/or people of color. SRLP also engages in litigation, policy reform and public education on issues affecting these communities and operates on a collective governance model, prioritizing the governance and leadership of trans, intersex, and gender non-conforming people of color….From 2012 to 2014 Dean was a fellow in the “Engaging Tradition” project at Columbia Law School.  His book, Normal Life: Administrative Violence, Critical Trans Politics and the Limits of Law was published in 2011.”

From: http://www.deanspade.net/about/

Zoe Dolan

“Zoe Dolan is a writer and trial lawyer known for handling high-profile criminal cases, including the 2014 trial of Suleiman Abu Ghayth, a son-in-law of Osama bin Laden and the allegedly highest-ranked al-Qaeda suspect to be tried in a civilian court in the United States. Her writing includes the book There Is Room for You: Tales from a Transgender Defender’s Heart (this excerpt in The Guardian two months ago generated over 5,200 likes and almost 800 heated comments), and a blog on The Huffington Post. Earlier this year, as part of her Being Transgender – Naked project, Upworthy presented this video that has received over 500,000 views across various platforms. Profiles of Zoe and her work have appeared in The New York Times, Al Jazeera, and The Advocate.”

From Zoe Dolan, personal correspondence.
Read more about Zoe at her webpage, here: http://www.zoedolan.com/

Phyllis Randolph Frye

“Phyllis Randolph Frye is known as the Grandmother of Transgender Law and is a graduate of the University of Houston College of Law.

Phyllis Randolph Frye is an Eagle Scout, a former member of the Texas A&M Corps of Cadets, a US Army veteran (1LT-RA 1970-72), a licensed engineer, [and] a licensed attorney…. She is the first, out, transgender judge in the nation… Phyllis remains on the cutting edge of LGBTI and especially transgender legal and political issues. When the ‘gay’ community was still ignoring or marginalizing the transgender community in the early 1990’s, Phyllis began the national transgender legal and political movement (thus she is known as being the TG movement’s ‘Grandmother’) with the six annual transgender law conferences (ICTLEP) and their grassroots training.

Attorney Frye is one of the Task Force’s 1995 ‘Creator of Change’ award winners. In 1999 she was given the International Foundation for Gender Education’s ‘Virginia Prince Lifetime Achievement’ award. In 2001 she was given the National LGBT Bar Association’s (a.k.a. Lavender Law’s) highest honor, the “Dan Bradley Award.” She was honored beginning in 2009 by Texas A&M University with an annual “Advocacy Award” given in her name. In 2013 the Houston Transgender Unity Committee gave her its ‘Lifetime Achievement Award.’

In 2010 Phyllis was sworn-in as the first, out, transgender judge in the nation, as a City of Houston Associate Municipal Judge. She retains her senior partnership with Frye, Oaks and Benavidez, PLLC, (at www.liberatinglaw.com) which is an out LGBTI-and-straight-allies law firm. While the members of the firm practice law in a variety of areas, Phyllis 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 2015 she was given the National Center For Transgender Equality’s ‘Julie Johnson Founders Award.'”

From Phyllis Randolph Frye’s biography page at LiberatingLaw.com: http://www.liberatinglaw.com/index.php/about/team/48-phyllis-frye.

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