Reminder

I’m in Cambridge MA attending a 3 week course at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. There is much to blog about, but little time to blog.

 An interaction with a couple of my classmates sparked this quick note.

When I finally made to move to living full time as my true self, I was delighted to be able to keep my nails painted. I could do clear, but red is my passion, and being able to finally do red in public was a great day for me.

 By now I have kept my nails and toes a bright red continuously for over 3 years. Long enough for it to be something I hardly notice.

 One morning on the bus to class one of my classmates asked me if red was my favorite color? Pointing out my red lipstick, nails, phone cover. Another classmate spoke up and added toenails. 

 I had on sneakers that day so she could not see my toes. But I had, on several occasions, worn sandals to class. She had noticed the red toenails another day. I really don't notice that they are painted, they just seem normal.

I have come to normalize things that initially seemed so risky het brought me such delight.

Reminder

As I write this I find myself embarking on a new journey. I am on my way to Boston Massachusetts to attend a class at the Harvard Kennedy school of Government.

At 59, it has been over 3 decades since I attended an actual university, and never one of such prestige and reputation.

 But as I make my way to this adventure, I am painfully reminded of my other journey, the journey of becoming my true self.

 I am no stranger to air travel. Pervious jobs regularly sent me around the globe. Presenting as a man brought unrealized advantages. When traveling in the middle seat, as I am today, the issue of my neighboring passengers occupying space beyond their given area was never an issue.

 One stern look and they would suddenly become adept at making themselves fit completely within the confines of their seat.

 Today I'm reminded that women do not quite add up in a male world. My neighbor traveler, a man in his 40's (I think),spreads out overlapping into my seat to the point where his body is in contact with mine from shoulder to waist.

 I can't go any further the other way without taking space from the woman on my other side.

 I give him the same look that worked like a charm before. I get a smile and a 'Crowded isn't it?' but no attempt to move.

 I do not think he was a bad guy, I really think it just did not occur to him that I deserved equal space. 

 The point is that before I transitioned this never happened. Maybe it was guy on guy contact that was found unacceptable before, maybe it's just misogyny, Does not really matter, life is different now...

  

Apology


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I want to personaly apologize to every citizen of every country on this Earth, for the unspeakable thing said January 11, 2018 by the president of the United States.

I want you to know that Mr. Trump does NOT respesent the American people. He is an embarrassment to the vast majority of the country, and we find his behavior unacceptable.

Most Americans respect and honor every country, every where,  and the people who live in and love them. 

We made a horrible mistake. We thought we had a system that would only allow us to elect a qualified individual to our highest office. We were wrong, and we installed an incompetent, racist, irrational man to the office of President.

Please forgive us.  

Jess Herbst

Near and Dear

It's interesting how seemingly random disconnected events can effect ones daily life.

Event one: When I was in my twenties, my father was diagnosed with skin cancer on his nose. It was caught late and removing it cost him his entire nose. This was a difficult thing, but it was far better than the alternative.

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They fitted him with a prosthesis, a remarkably real appearing nose made of a special rubber like material. He attached it with medical adhesive tape.

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I remember many early mornings, seeing him carefully cut and place the tape on his nose, then carefully putting it into position on his face.

 

 My Grandfather (With Cigar), his brothers and my oldest brother, and me!

My Grandfather (With Cigar), his brothers and my oldest brother, and me!

Event two: When I first discussed being trans with my doctor, she asked me if I wanted to transition. A fact I neither hide nor discuss, is that I have the same male pattern baldness gene that my mother’s father and uncles had.

I told my doctor that, yes, I wanted to transition, but that I never could.

"Why?", she asked.

"Because I have no hair", I replied.

She gave me an expression that is best described as 'The Stink Eye' and said "There are many women who have no hair, do you think that stops them from living their lives?".

My eyes were suddenly, and finally opened to the possibility of actually being me.

I wear what is closer to a prosthetic than a wig. It's natural blond human hair, not dyed or processed. It is attached to a silk cap that is made specifically to the dimensions of my head. I attach it with the same medical adhesive my father used for his nose.

Whenever I'm cutting and carefully placing the tape on the lace, I can not help but to think of my father, and his nose, and how sometimes your connection to your parents come in unexpected ways. 

 My Dad, Dr. John Raymond Herbst with my brothers Phillip and Fredrick.

My Dad, Dr. John Raymond Herbst with my brothers Phillip and Fredrick.

My dad passed away about a decade ago. He never got to see the real me.

Obligations

I see and hear much confusion about holding political office. The public seems to believe that government is there to tell us what to do, that people who hold office wield powers akin to a corporate CEO. Alas many elected officials believe the same.

 This is not what the authors of the constitution envisioned. Government was meant to be for the people and by the people.

 
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 In my capacity as Mayor, I am the leader of the town council, not the boss. It is my job to lead the council through issues put before us. I can and do, try to express my opinion.  Of what I think is the best resolution to each issue for the town. The council should never consider what is best for us or our families, but what is best for the town as a whole.

 

Trying to influence the opinions of my fellow council is the extent of my power. It is the majority vote that decides the issues. My vote counts exactly one, just like everyone else's.

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 Likewise, the job of state or federal legislators is to try and influence the opinions of other legislators on the will of the people they represent. It is not their job to create laws that force their personal opinions of the country. They were not put there to rule the population, they are suppose to represent them.

 

Too many of our elected officials have either forgotten or never learned this. 

Most people think they have no say or control over the government. But that is not true! You, the voter, are the boss. It's up to you to determine who and what our government is.

 You have an obligation to your country to vote. And if the person on the ballot does not understand they are there to represent your values, your wishes, don't vote for them, no matter which political party they proport to belong to. In the end, political parties don't make policy, individual people do.

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A seat at the table

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This week I attended the The Victory Institute’s International LGBTQ Leadership Conference in Washington D.C. 

Transgender elected officials and candidates were the talk of the conference and subject matter of many breakout sessions.

 Everyone was celebrating the victories of the November 2017 election.

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 In attendance were Danica Roem - Virginal House of Delegates elect,

Andrea Jenkins and Phillipe Cunningham - Minneapolis City council elect,

Lisa Middleton - Palm Springs City Council elect,

Tyler Titus - Erie Pennsylvania School Board elect,

Vernetta Alston - Durham City Council elect,

They were this years ‘Conference Royalty’.

 

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The Conference last day’s main Plenum was titled ‘Year of the Trans Candidate’.

 

 

 It would be easy to think these candidates ran on platforms of transgender rights, but nothing could be further from the truth.

 

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Danica spoke passionately about the traffic issues strangling her constituents.

Phillipe was upset with the gentrification of his neighborhoods and the community it was displacing.

Tyler could hardly stop talking about the kids in his district and how many were being left behind.

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And so it went with each and every one.

 

 

They were concerned with the issues that effected everyone they will now represent. They were not there to single out transgender as some kind of chosen people.

 

 

 

 If they did not run with a transgender agenda, why did they run? Why now after all these years of never seeing a transgender candidate?

 To answer that you need to look at history, to the acceptance of transgender individuals in society.

 

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 In 1999, I moved into my home in New Hope Texas, and at the time there many gravel roads in town. I was concerned with the state of these roads and in 2003 when a council seat was vacated by the existing road commissioner, I jumped at the chance and filled it.

I was trans then as I always have been, but I had to hide it. Society still considered me mentally defective.

 

 

Outing myself as trans at that time would have prevented me from the opportunity to serve so I could pave those roads.

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 Since then something happened, something wonderful. Major psychological organizations declared there was nothing wrong with the transgender mind. They recommended embracing us rather than trying to change us.

 

 Society was introduced to, and began to accept when several celebrities came out as transgender. Then regular people like me came out and showed the world who we were. Now when a person is passionate about issues affecting their community, they can step up and run for office. Being transgender is no longer a barrier to serve.

 

 Going forward, we will see many more transgender people run for and win political office, just like anyone else in this country.

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