Texas Mayor Jess Herbst: ‘Yes I am Transgender and a Seated Mayor’

Image from the website of the mayor of New Hope, Tex., Jess Herbst.

by Thea Voutiritsas

Jess Herbst, mayor of New Hope, Texas announced at a town hall meeting that she is Transgender, and would no longer use the name Jeff. “As far as I know, I am the first openly transgender mayor on record in the state of Texas; there could be others who never came out,” Ms. Herbst said in a New York Times interview on Wednesday. “But I am the first to say, ‘Yes I am transgender and a seated mayor.’ ” Herbst also writes an open letter to the citizens of New Hope which can be viewed on the official website of New Hope. In it, she writes:

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.

In Herbst’s blog, jessherbst.com, she writes that she found many of her transgender references online. She says she found “an avalanche of knowledge. I became aware of not only the terminology, but that fact that there were many, many more people like me out there.” Herbst was eventually able to begin meeting with more trans women, and about a year ago, she began HRT. Now, she has been living full-time as Jess since January 2017.

She plans on continuing as Mayor, and hopes to do the very best for the town. She says that her family has been supportive, writing in the letter that “My daughters have been adamant supporters of me and are proud to tell people their father is transgender.” More of Herbst’s story and updates can be found on her blog.


Rape Definiton Needs Revising

By Emily Mathis

According to a recent article in the NY Times, the federal definition of rape is too narrow. The definition, written 80 years ago, states that rape is “the carnal knowledge of a female, forcibly and against her will”. This definition leaves out different types of
rape such as oral or anal penetration and most noticeably it leaves out men.

Leaving out these important types of rape can lead to more underreporting and misleading information. It also can send the wrong message to the victims possibly making them feel like their rape didn’t count.

Law enforcement agencies and feminist groups are calling for a revision of this narrow definition. And after reading the article, I am with them. It is astounding the numbers of crimes that aren’t federally recognized because they don’t fit the definition. According to the article, in Chicago there were some 1400 sexual assaults reported and none of them appeared in the federal crime report because Chicago has a “broader” definition of rape that doesn’t fit into the federal one.

What could it mean if the definition is broadened? For starters, it would help give an accurate report on rape statistics so people would know what’s really going on out there. Secondly, it could help funding for rape crisis centers that depend on federal funding to survive. And lastly, it’s just another way to help make victims heard.

According to the article, there will be a subcommittee meeting on October 18 and the issue will be brought up then. Let’s hope that these voices are heard and the definition will be revised.