Progress in Texas

Jess Herbst became the first known openly transgender mayor in Texas when she came out to the residents of New Hope in early February. Herbst, a former alderman and mayor pro tem, was appointed mayor in May after the previous mayor died.

Herbst posted an open letter on the North Texas town’s website, telling her more than 600 Collin County constituents, “I am transgender.”

“As your mayor I must tell you about something that has been with me since my earliest memories,” Herbst wrote. “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.”

“I love my wife, and she loves me, we have no intention of change,” Herbst wrote in her open letter. “My daughters have been adamant supporters of me and are proud to tell people their father is transgender.”

She invited the residents of New Hope to visit her blog if they had comments or questions.

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The Good Always Outweighs The Bad

As mayor of Holyoke, Massachusetts, Alex Morse receives many letters, phone calls, tweets and Facebook messages that criticize how he runs the city. But last week, Morse received a letter at his home that was different. This letter targeted his sexuality and had a threatening tone. “Alex, you are one of the most selfish people that I know due to your ‘gay’ lifestyle,” the note began. “You are going down.” There was no return address, and no name at the bottom.

Morse, who is openly gay, said he decided to make the message public to bring awareness to what he sees as the challenges ahead, as hate crimes are on the rise since the Donald Trump won the presidential election. “It’s a more threatening message than usual, and given the context of the culture that seems to have been elevated since the Trump election, I thought it was important to shine a light on this language and behavior,” said Morse.

Since receiving the message, Morse said there has been an outpouring of support from his community. People have called and left messages at his office and expressed concern, he said. More than 400 people have left comments on Facebook, calling the note “sick” and “disgusting.”

“Like any community, be it in Holyoke, Mass., or anywhere else across the country, there are going to be people who are small-minded and bigoted,” he said. But, he added, “I know that the good always outweighs the bad.”

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