Feb. 2 (UPI) -- The mayor of a 600-person town 40 miles north of Dallas greeted constituents Tuesday night as a woman, having revealed she is transgender days earlier in a post on the town's website.
Jess Herbst, the mayor of New Hope, Texas, became the first openly transgender public official in the state with her Jan. 23 announcement, explaining her life and inviting residents to come speak with her at Tuesday night's town council meeting.
Herbst, who has served New Hope as an alderman, road commissioner and mayor pro tem, was appointed mayor last May after the elected mayor died after the election. As the longest-serving member of the town government, Herbst was installed as mayor.
"As your mayor, I must tell you about something that has been with me since my earliest memories: I am transgender," Herbst said in a post on the New Hope town website. "Two years ago, with the support of my wife, daughters and son-in-law, I began hormone replacement therapy. At the time, I did not imagine I would hold the mayor's position, but here I am."
Herbst, named Jeff at birth and known that way for the first 58 years of her life, started pulling aside other council members and people in the town's government in November, telling them she was transgender.
Tuesday, Herbst attended her first meeting since publicly announcing she would live her life as a woman and, though she says she had already received a positive response, what she got at the meeting was surprising and heartening.
"It was phenomenally positive; everyone was supportive," Herbst told The New York Times. "We had a fairly packed crowd for a tiny town -- there were 15 or 20 people there. I explained to the people who had not just had a chance to see the website, and everybody said, 'O.K.,' and we went on and had a meeting."