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Meet the Grandmother of the Trans Legal Rights Movement

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Phyllis Frye’s statusas the “grandmother of the transgender legal rights movement” was always partly the handiwork of her stalwart support system, second wife, Patricia “Trish” Dooley Frye, whom she was wed to for 47 years.

Frye is now navigating life without Trish, who died in 2020.“We had such a good love that I want love again,” Frye told Outsmart last year. “Not everybody [gets that kind of love].”Frye is working to move on, taking heart that her legacy as a queer rights leader is being cemented as of late.

A new book from historians Michael G. Long and Shea Tuttle, Phyllis Frye and the Fight for Transgender Rights, documents her momentous life and its instrumental role in trans liberation.

Like Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Frye is best known as a judge — in 2010 she became the first openly transgender judge appointed in the U.S. — but some of her most impactful work took place when she didn’t wield a gavel.After becoming a lieutenant in the Army and marrying Trish, Frye came out as trans in the mid-70s, enduring non-stop harassment from her Houston-area neighbors.

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