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How the transgender mayor of New Hope is changing the rules

How the transgender mayor of New Hope is changing the rules

How the transgender mayor of New Hope is changing the rules
February 07
00:12 2017

Tuesday, Jan. 31 marked a monumental moment in Texas history when the mayor of New Hope, a suburb of McKinney, announced she was transgender.

The announcement was released on the official website of the city of New Hope, where Jess Herbst addressed she would now and forevermore be living her life as a woman, and that she would also continue serving as mayor.

New Hope is a conservative farming town of about 639 residents, so Mayor Herbst was overwhelmed when the announcement was met not only tolerance, but also with unanimous support.

Herbst became mayor in May 2016 after serving since 2003 in the local government as “alderman, road commissioner and mayor pro-tem.” Herbst began Hormone Replacement Therapy two years ago and in the announcement she says, “At the time, I did not imagine I would hold the mayor’s position, but here I am.”

The support spread across the nation, with her story being featured in several news outlets. She even garnered a supportive message from Caitlyn Jenner, who Herbst attributes, along with Laverne Cox of “Orange Is The New Black,” to making great strides in the transgender community.

Herbst has been chronicling her journey as a public official through a self-titled blog, specifically so the announcement wouldn’t come as too much of a surprise to New Hope residents.

Perhaps it’s this collection of her story that has created so much support in her community. In the blog, she’s honest about every step during her path. Herbst, 58, tells all about growing up with thoughts of transitioning, being old enough to read about transitioning and finally deciding to transition at 56 with full support from her wife and children.

For the most part, people have said nice things and she has received full support from her colleagues. In a report from the Dallas Morning News, serving Alderman Bob Parmalee explained the support: “As long as the person does a good job as mayor, and she is doing a good job as mayor.”

As a public official, she has strongly felt that it’s her duty to the people to be honest, which is why she will continue being who she is during her tenure in office. It is obvious that she feels in order to do the best job she can as mayor, she must be her full self. This is just as much of a service to herself as it is to the people of New Hope.

This announcement comes at an uncanny time as Senate Bill 6 has been in major talks for the past few months and could be signed into law during this upcoming legislative session.

Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick has been a strong proponent for this bill, which allows businesses to regulate who gets to use the bathrooms in their facilities and in public schools. In turn, state and government buildings will force all to use the bathroom that corresponds to their biological sex.

Patrick has stated that he wants to protect women and children from sexual predators. However, many feel this bill is discriminatory, needlessly expensive and is not even the most pressing issue to focuse on in legislature.

With such a bill on the table, especially in Texas, and considering the politics of the DFW area, Herbst’s announcement is extra surprising. She should be praised for her sincere need to be herself and nothing less.

As the first seated transgender mayor in history, her story is impactful and will be remembered as an example of the great strides made in the transgender community, gradually changing how society views LGBT issues.

Featured Illustration: Samuel Wiggins

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Tori Falcon

Tori Falcon

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1 Comment

  1. Andy
    Andy February 08, 16:33

    Only in government buildings. It actually defends private business, so Starbucks and Target can do whatever they want, and more conservative cities can no more regulate bathroom behavior than can liberal cities.

    Also worth considering: you can change the gender on your birth certificate already. ?

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