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Texas mayor comes out as state’s first openly transgender official

Texas mayor comes out as state’s first openly transgender official
Mayor Jess Herbst is out, proud, and the worst kept secret in tiny New Hope, Texas.

Herbst came out as transgender to her constituents in an open letter this week, but revealed in her blog that she came out to family and friends back in May and to her colleagues on the town council in November.

Herbst told LGBTQ Nation she presided over her first town council meeting as her true self Tuesday evening: “The meeting went wonderful last night. Everyone was very supportive.”

On the day before Election Day, Herbst posted this:

 “I now spend almost all my time as myself and it feels so nice.

“When I think of all the years I worried, all the imagined problems I would face, how much I failed to understand real public reception, I can’t believe how long I held myself back.”

And last month, she provided more detail in this update:

“The last year has seen less and less Jeff. By early Summer 2016 Jeff was an appearance for work only. Late Summer I began coming out with my various employers( I am self employed and work for many different entities), and working as Jess. Before the new year rang in, Jess was open knowledge to everyone in my life and I have abandoned appearing as Jeff.”

Herbst also revealed in an email to LGBTQ Nation that she is not going to legally change her male first name right now. “My town attorney has advised me against me changing my legal name until the next election due to complications with the election code.”

The act of writing a letter to her neighbors about being trans in staunchly conservative Collin County, north of Dallas, triggered a story in the Texas Observer which then ricocheted not just across the Lone Star State but around the world.


Herbst noted on her Facebook page that she wasn’t contacted for that report, and corrected the record: although she is the first openly trans mayor in Texas, she was not elected; she was appointed mayor of the town of roughly 600, following the death of her predecessor.

Herbst, who remains married to her wife and has the support of their two daughters and now her extended family, revealed she has not lost her sense of humor in her transition, with a side-by-side “before and after” post on her social media:

As most trans men and women know, pronoun preference can be a struggle for friends and family after transition. Herbst notes in her blog that while she identifies as female and uses she/her/hers, she’s comfortable with both, for now, and being patient with those who can’t quite get the hang of it yet.

“For the people I have known for many years, there are tons of memories where the pronoun was always male and it will take much time to add the necessary new memories.”

Watch a report from WFAA-TV on Herbst’s coming out and read her letter to constituents after the break.

Here’s the text of Herbst’s letter to her constituents:

An open letter to the citizens of New Hope.

As the new mayor of New Hope, I would like to tell you all what a privilege it is to serve you. Since 2003 I have had the privilege of being an alderman, road commissioner and mayor pro-them. In May of 2016, I became your mayor.

My wife has lived in New Hope since she was 2 years old. Along with our 2 daughters, we have lived here since 1999, on the same farm my wife was raised. I was born and raised in Greenville, Texas.

As your Mayor I must tell you about something that has been with me since my earliest memories. I am Transgender. Twoyears 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.

I know that transgender people are just coming to light in our society, and we have made great strides in the last few years. Celebrities like olympic gold medalist Caitlyn Jenner, Laverne Cox from the show ‘Orange is the new Black’ and popular shows like ‘Transparent’ , society finally has a chance to see and learn about who we are. 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.

I am self employed and all of my customers have been understanding and supportive.

I live my life as a female now, and I will be performing my duties to the town as such. I have written a blog documenting my decision process and experiences as transgender and I think you would find it contains much insight. The site is JessHerbst.Com

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 will continue as Mayor and hope to do the very best for the town. Please feel free to email me questions or comments, my email is [email protected]. The Monthly Town Council meetings are on the last Tuesday of every month, at Town hall on Rockcrest. The meeting begins at 7:30pm. There is a spot for public comment at the beginning of each meeting if you wish to address me, or the council about this or any other town matter. I encourage you to do so, it really is the best way for the council to know what issues need addressing.

Thank you for your attention.

Jess Herbst

Mayor, Town of New Hope


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