Don’t Mess with Texas!
It’s such a wonderful certainty to have. Despite the sometimes frightening culture clashes we are seeing today, I know deep in my soul that the times they are a-changin’.
Raise a glass for the beautiful and bright Jess Herbst, who “is the first known openly transgender … official in Texas history,” as the Texas Observer reported.
Last year, Jess as Jeff was appointed mayor north of Dallas in a town fittingly called New Hope. Jess had long served the town as a road commissioner, alderman, and mayor pro-ten.
Recently, she has documented her transition on her blog, writing that until last summer, she “was at best a part-time person. I kept my male persona for work, local politics, most day-to-day business and shopping. If had to guess, I would say my time was 70% male, 30% female. I have always been the same person inside…”
Despite some hurdles, Jess found enough of a warm reception and support to live as herself full time.
She recently wrote an open letter to her town and shared her truth.
“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 (HRT). At the time, I did not imagine I would hold the mayor’s position, but here I am.”
Jess candidly puts her people at ease when she says, “I’m not especially sensitive to the pronoun I’m called, and I expect people to take time to make the change.” She thanks her family, business customers, and community members for supporting her transgender transition, and says she welcomes comments and questions.
Jess has shown grace and courage, choosing not to alienate a demographic—Texans—which includes many stereotypically old-fashioned, God-and-country types. No doubt she faces a great deal of discrimination, perhaps no more but certainly no less, than a trans woman anywhere. But her stance is courageously inclusive and open.
Despite the media proclaiming her elected, Jess was actually thrown into the fire unexpectedly. She set the record straight recently in a blog post called “Truth.”
As mayor pro-ten, when her predecessor tragically had a heart attack and passed on, she was thrown onto the coals of mayordom in the middle of her transition.
“Probably the hardest thing that any transgender does is come out publicly. It hangs over our heads like a guillotine poised to strike. Once you make the decision to live your life on the outside like it feels on the inside, you know that it has to be done.”
Jess is a true inspiration for other trans women in highly public roles and politics.
A heroine for the era. Bravo and much love to you!