A small-town mayor has become the first elected official to come out as transgender in Texas.
Jess Herbst took the mayor’s office of New Hope, a 600-something suburb of McKinney 45 minutes north of Dallas, in May 2016.
Now she came out as trans to the town’s citizens – in an open letter, posted on the town’s official website.
‘As your Mayor I must tell you about something that has been with me since my earliest memories. I am Transgender,’ Herbst said.
‘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 position, but here I am.’
According to the Dallas Observer, she is the first transgender elected official.
Herbst was originally elected to the Town Council as an alderman, also covering road commissioner and mayor pro-tem.
She was appointed as mayor after the town’s former mayor died of a heart attack after the election cut-off date – but still won.
In her letter, Herbst said the growing public presence of trans people and big names like Laverne Cox and Caitlyn Jenner, had helped make great strides and gave society the chance to see and learn.
‘It is gender identity not sexual preference that applies to me,’ Herbst said.
‘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.’
The mayor has been documenting her experiences as a trans woman in Texas – and a trans woman in office – on a blog.
In April 2016, she used her blog to rally against bathroom bills, saying ‘the best way we can fight this is from inside the battlefield.’
And for the 2017 legislative period, Texas is believed to be gearing up for a number of anti-LGBTI bills.
Texas Lt Gov Dan Patrick has already unveiled Senate Bill 6 – an anti-trans bathroom bill believed to be very similar to North Carolina’s HB6.