'Here I Am': Texas Mayor Comes Out as Transgender - NBC Southern California
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'Here I Am': Texas Mayor Comes Out as Transgender

"Society finally has a chance to see and learn about who we are," Jess Herbst wrote, linking her announcement to prominent transgender figures like Caitlyn Jenner and Laverne Cox

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Jess Herbst, the mayor of New Hope, wrote a letter to residents this week saying she is transgender. (Published Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2017)

    A small town in North Texas just got a big headline. 

    Jess Herbst, the mayor of New Hope, wrote a letter to residents this week saying she is transgender.

    "Society finally has a chance to see and learn about who we are," Herbst wrote, linking her announcement to prominent transgender figures like Caitlyn Jenner and Laverne Cox. "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."

    New Hope is located three miles east of McKinney in Collin County. Its population is just over 600 residents. 

    Herbst was appointed mayor in May, after serving as mayor pro tem. She has served the city since 2003, also as alderperson and road commissioner.
    "I don't have to worry about who I am today. 'Am I, Jeff? Am I, Jess?' I'm just me. I know I'll do my job much better," Herbst told NBC 5's Chris Jose. "I was expecting to see a 50-50 response. Today, I've had hundreds of letters of support and two bad ones."

    Herbst's announcement comes with a bill before the Texas legislature that would ban transgender people from using the bathroom of their choice, following the lead of North Carolina's controversial HB2 law that resulted in boycotts.

    In her letter, Herbst acknowledged that she did not foresee becoming mayor — she took over the role in May when longtime Mayor Johnny Hamm was re-elected despite having died days earlier.

    "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."

    Herbst said she will continue to serve as mayor and encourages anyone with questions or comments to contact her, or visit her website to learn more about her transition. 

    She said in her letter that the customers of her business have been understanding.

    "I have received emails congratulating me, calling me brave and even one expressing pride in living in a town with a mayor like me," Herbst told the Huffington Post. "I never hoped for more than simple tolerance, the outpouring of support is unprecedented."

    Read her full letter here.

    NBC 5's Chris Jose contributed to this report.