A small town in Texas is now officially home to the state’s first mayor who is a man who likes to dress up as a woman and call himself transgender.
The town is New Hope, a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it outpost of perhaps 600 souls just east of McKinney and about 40 miles northeast of Dallas.
The mayor is Jess Herbst, reports CBS Dallas.
Herbst, 58, was born with the name Jeff.
In an open letter on the town’s website entitled “An open letter to the citizens of New Hope,” Herbst announced that he dresses in women’s clothing and has underdone hormone therapy.
“Since 2003 I have had the privilege of being an alderman, road commissioner and mayor pro-tem,” the letter reads. “In May of 2016, I became your mayor.”
“My wife has lived in New Hope since she was 2 years old,” the missive continues. “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.”
“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.”
Herbst was initially duly elected as an alderman on the New Hope town council.
When the mayor who preceded Herbst died, Herbst was appointed mayor.
Collin County, where New Hope is located, is one of the more conservative areas in Texas, notes The Texas Observer, a news outfit based in Austin.
Donald Trump carried Collin County easily in November — by 17 percent.
In a post on his personal blog from last year, Herbst bashes state legislators who seek to force transgender individuals to use public bathrooms according to their genitalia — not the way they feel about their gender identity or how they are dressed.
Herbst describes such lawmakers as “transphobic.” Republican legislators have “sold their supporters on an image of a scary, unfeminine man in a bad dress with even worst makeup, intent on molesting anything it can find in the bathroom,” Herbst writes.
Another blog post focuses on how his colleagues and people he knows are dealing with the vexing issue of pronouns.
“My name change came quickly and apparently easily for them,” Herbst explains in a blog post dated Jan. 13, 2017. “Rarely, if ever, does anyone call me Jeff.”
“Pronouns are a completely different story,” Herbst says.
He appears to prefer that people use the pronouns “she and her” when talking about him.
In his open letter, Herbst thanks celebrity cross-dresser Caitlyn Jenner for helping transgender people make “great strides in the last few years.”
He also encourages residents of New Hope to contact him or to show up at town meetings to make public comments if they have any concerns the local government can resolve.