Photography by Melanie Grizzel

Local News

The New Hope in New Hope

Meet Mayor Jess Herbst.

It wasn’t a political act when Mayor Jess Herbst came out as transgender at the end of January, just one of the last legs on a personal journey that had taken more than 50 years. Her unexpected ascension to mayor of the tiny town northeast of McKinney prompted the announcement, but it was something that been coming for almost a decade.

But at this time in Texas’ history, with Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and other Republican legislators fighting to get a bathroom bill on the books, the personal has become the political.

When I met Herbst a couple of months ago to work on this profile that appears in our June issue, she was still marveling at how far her story had spread in such a short time. At least part of it has to do with the citizens of New Hope’s supportive reaction. But I think most of the credit should go to Jess herself and her family, who have held strong to each other as their world, and the world in general, keeps changing.

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