Jess Herbst, the mayor of New Hope, a small town in Collin County about a 45-minute drive north of Dallas, has come out as transgender. In an open letter posted on the town’s website Herbst wrote, “I am Transgender. Two years ago, with the support of my wife, daughters and son-in-law, I began Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT). At the time, I did not imagine I would hold the Mayors [sic] position, but here I am.”
According to The Dallas Observer, Herbst is the first openly transgender mayor in Texas. She was appointed to the position after the former mayor, Johnny Hamm, died during his re-election campaign and, as pro tem, Herbst was asked to step in to complete the mayor’s full term.
Collin County is one of the most conservative areas in Texas, reports The Dallas Observer, with President Donald Trump having secured a 17 percentage point win there in the general election. And transgender rights have recently been the focal point of political debate in the state following a host of so-called “bathroom bills” which brought into question whether transgender Texans should be required to use the bathroom corresponding to the gender on their birth certificate rather than the gender with which they identify.
Herbst has been vocal in her opposition to the proposed bills, taking to her blog, on which she has documented her journey, to rail against these “transphobic, fantasies of religious zealots.”
Despite the ongoing controversy surrounding transgender rights Herbst has told the The Huffington Post that reaction to her letter was overwhelmingly positive. “I have received emails congratulating me, calling me brave and even one expressing pride in living in a town with a mayor like me,” she said. “I never hoped for more than simple tolerance, the outpouring of support is unprecedented.”
Read the full story at The Huffington Post.