Mere days before a public town meeting the mayor of New Hope, Texas ... Texas ... Jess Herbst, posted an announcement on the town website that, in part, read:
“I am transgender.”
The statement also said that she had transitioned and would no longer use the name Jeff.
In an interview after the town meeting, Mayor Herbst said:
“As far as I know, I am the first openly transgender mayor on record in the state of Texas; there could be others who never came out, but I am the first to say, ‘Yes I am transgender and a seated mayor.’”
In her website Coming Out statement, Herbst told the people of New Hope about the joy she felt about her life as a woman, including her preference in pronouns and the endurance of her marriage.
“As your mayor I must tell you about something that has been with me since my earliest memories. I am Transgender. Two years ago, with the support of my wife, daughters and son-in-law, I began hormone replacement therapy. At the time, I did not imagine I would hold the mayor’s position, but here I am.”
Jess Herbst has been active in local government since 2003 as an elected alderman, road commissioner and mayor pro tempore, and in 2016, she was appointed New Hope’s mayor after the previous mayor died in office.
The day after her announcement, the New Hope website was still referring to her as Mayor Jeff Herbst, but Mayor Jess Herbst is patient:
“I’m not especially sensitive to the pronoun I’m called, and I expect people to take time to make the change. I use the name Jess, a simple change from Jeff. I live my life as a female now, and I will be performing my duties to the town as such.”
And in her announcement on the town website, Herbst invited the public to speak at the town meeting, which she attended for the first time dressed as a woman:
“It was phenomenally positive; everyone was supportive. We had a fairly packed crowd for a tiny town — there were 15 or 20 people there. I explained to the people who had not just had a chance to see the website, and everybody said, ‘O.K.,' and we went on and had a meeting.”
‘We went on and had a meeting’ because, really, what difference did it make? Jess Herbst was the same mayor she’d been before the announcement, right?
Herbst has received thousands of messages of support, and just three negative ones. And, the replies to her announcement on Facebook, and the town’s website, are from residents praising her for coming forward in a state where, in most parts, it is perfectly legal to discriminate against people on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.
Herbst suggested on the city’s website that the culture was changing in this country and asked her constituents to read her personal website, HERE, where she has kept a diary over the years.
Mayor Herbst says her family is completely supportive; her wife grew up in New Hope, and the couple has lived there with their two daughters since 1999:
“It is gender identity, not sexual preference that applies to me. I love my wife, and she loves me. We have no intention of change. My daughters have been adamant supporters of me and are proud to tell people their father is transgender.”
Herbst said she began living full time as Jess in late September, and gradually broke the news to friends and family, and when there was no one no one left to tell, she told the town:
“I am being who I am and doing what I have to do. I am not trying to make some sort of big statement.”
She’s Jess Herbst, the mayor of New Hope, Texas.
New hope for Texas, and for all of us.
And I have to send off anotehr Coming Out Toaster Oven and a copy of The Gay Agenda.