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Texas transgender mayor Jess Herbst takes action in Austin

Jess Herbst

New Hope Mayor Jess Herbst led a group of transgender activists to the halls of the Legislative building Thursday, April 6th in response to SB6, the infamous Texas bathroom bill.

Mayor Herbst was hopeful that after lawmakers had an opportunity to meet the people they are so intent on criminalizing they might have a change of heart. Perhaps her group succeeded in some way as the far right ‘Texas Freedom Caucus”(TFC) failed to advance SB6 Thursday.

But on the following Monday, it was learned that TFC house members used the ‘Bathroom’ amendment as a bargaining chip to defund Planned Parenthood while bringing HB 2899, an act which would strip LGBT protections from 9 million Texans to a public debate at the State Affairs Committee Wednesday.

“I personally believe that SB6, along with HB2, are the beginnings of a right wing push back aimed at erasing the progress we have made in human right over the last several decades.” Mayor Herbst said prophetically in a statement to Planet Trans.

“I worry less about its effect on me and other trans adults than the effect on trans kids.” Herbst said in reference to the Texas Federation of Teachers President statement condemning Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s anti-transgender initiatives as a “war on kids”
Jess Herbst
Studies show that Transgender children who are supported in their identities show positive mental health but conversely those who don’t have amongst the highest suicide rates.

“After the last 8 years of White House support, an entire lifetime for some, these kids are suddenly faced with discrimination and bullying. When cisgender kids hear adults say that there should be laws against transgender people, they will assume that it is OK to bully them.” Said Herbst.

“The problems will go beyond schoolhouse bullying. When ignorant adults see this law, many will take justice into their own hands and attempt to police bathrooms. This will of course, lead to far more false positives than anyone is willing to admit. We have seen a dramatic increase of harassment towards cis women who do not fit the extreme definition of feminine.” Herbst explained.

Last year a Frisco woman posted a video on Facebook of a man who entered a woman’s room intent on dragging her out. The viral video shared by Dallas Morning News shows the end of the encounter with a rather burly man sheepishly apologizing for his mistake while simultaneously excusing it’s illegality because according to him she ‘dressed like a man’.

The “Freedom Caucus” attack isn’t limited to public accommodations. According to Jessica Farrar, a Democratic legislator from Houston evangelical Christian state lawmakers are on “a jihad” to pass anti-LGBT measures in the 85th Texas Legislature

Jess Herbst
New Hope Mayor Jess Herbst

“As the only transgender mayor in the United States, I have to wonder how such a bill becoming law will affect my chances of re-election? Will voters think that there is something wrong with me if there is a law to regulate my public existence?” Wonders Herbst.

If last Thursday’s protest outside the House chamber was any indication, the vast majority of citizens are also against SB6.

“I and my fellow advocates felt heartened to see so much support. There was a large number of people who stopped to shake our hands and thank us for being there. There were thumbs up as people passed by, many respectful requests for us to help them understand what it was like to be trans, and how the bill would impact our lives.”

“There was only one vocal opposition to our cause,” said Herbst, explaining. “a rather smug gentleman named Tex Christopher, who spouted myths, inaccuracies, and verifiable lies.” Christopher repeatedly told Herbst in the video below of ‘equal reactions to actions” ostensibly warning her if LGBT people come out of the closet there would be consequences.

“We did have a few faces that indicated their distaste for us, but no one else spoke. I and my fellow trans and gender non-conforming people will continue this fight until will il the bill or they kill us in the process!” Herbst proclaimed.

It turns out Christopher Tex was in Austin to bring awareness to Texas human trafficking which the Polaris Project calls modern slavery.

Christopher told Herbst that he had played a major role in the petition drive that defeated Houston’s LGBT-inclusive ordinance was in the legislature promoting a draconian censorship bill HB2266 which would require that retailers install programs on computers and phones blocking access to ‘pornographic’ websites.

It’s all too obvious what Christopher Tex believes to be pornographic.

Kelli Busey
Kelli, Busey is managing editor at Planet Transgender


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