A Rose by any other name…

I have been traveling a lot lately. That means staying in hotels, a task I am well acquainted with. These days it has been a source of anguish. Why?

When I check into a hotel I am met with the standard ‘Credit card and ID’ request. I slip these two from my purse and present them. The clerk looks them over and then it happens. My smiling face is right there on my TDL along with the name ‘Jeffery Paul Herbst’. This usually causes a slight double take. Look at picture, look at me. Long blond hair, check. Blue eyes, check. Same smile, check. But of course the name and the person standing there simply don’t check. I don’t look like a ‘Jeffrey Paul’.

This has led me to pursue a legal name change, something simple in concept, but with a tedious list of steps to complete.

The obvious first, and often underestimated step is what do you change it to? When I first decided to explore my feminine side, I thought long and hard about what I was to be called. The name Jess was chosen for its simplicity and the similarity to the name everyone already knew me by. I had been called Jeff for as long as I can remember, but my name was Jeffrey. 

I believed that I would need a longer more formal form of Jess for my official name. I knew too many Jessica’s so it was out. A google search led me to Jesilyn and its various spellings. OK, I could live with that. But it was not popular with my wife or kids.

Back to the search and I found Jessa and liked it, my kids liked it and even my wife signed off on it. So now what to do with the middle name ‘Paul’? This has been the least used name I have had the pleasure of owning. Over the years I’ve often been called ‘Jeff’ or by my last name, or nicknames bestowed on me by my friends - Herby, Doctor and Mr. Wizard are a few that come to mind. No one has ever called me Paul.

I went to my family history for this task and after a few stumbles settled on Helene, my fathers sister who died in childhood. I remember him speaking of her fondly and just liked the name.

Next step was filling out the paperwork and filing it at the courthouse. This is when my wife stepped back in to the debate asking if it made any sense to have a name that would rarely be used, and only had a single letter difference from the nickname. I had to overcome the notion that my first name must to be a longer formal version of my everyday name. I was reminded that my own daughter’s name is Lauren, no long version, no nickname version, just Lauren. A little thought brings dozens of examples to mind. She was right and Jessa became just Jess.

The form is filed, and fingerprints have been sent to Austin for a background check, a requirement in Texas. So now I just wait for clearance from the DPS and get an appointment before a judge.

 When they asks the reason for a name change, I think they will do the same double take and have their answer!

The Importance of being Earnest

I have mentioned many times how lucky I am to have the love and support of my wife and kids. This has been a subject of fascination with many of the journalists I have worked with.

In the transgender community it is something of the exception to the rule. It’s not completely unheard of, but is certainly not what many consider the ‘norm’.


 All too often the decision to transition must include consideration of losing ones spouse, children and family. Friends and employment are party to these concerns as well.

 The frequency I read of other transgender people agonizing the loss of their whole world is disturbing. The decisions of who leaves, who will the kids stay with? Will the kids even want to see with the transgender parent? It is little wonder that the vast majority of trans identifying people never transition.


 I am aquatinted with a reasonably large number of trans people. I attend dinners, concerts, Christmas parties and many other social events. The topic of spouses and kids comes up inevitably. Many are out to their spouse but not to their kids. Many are out to no one in their personal life and maintain a completely separate existence to fulfill their transgender inner workings.

 I have met trans women that rent storage facilities just to keep their feminine stash secret from their family. Many make up elaborate stories to explain where they will be when they allow themselves to express themselves. They are terrified of the consequences of being discovered.  


This behavior, while seeming a necessity leads to an ever increasing problem. It is deceit, a lie, and as time goes on, it gets bigger and bigger.

 I was very fortunate to find an understanding spouse from the very beginning. We discussed my feelings before we decided to marry. This was before I knew the word transgender, or understood that I was not alone in feeling this way.

 I read a post from a friend recently saying that when she interviewed for a job, she talked about her activity in LGBT advocacy. This eventually paved the way for her acceptance at work. My own experience was that being honest with the people I work with has been met with acceptance and appreciation.

 This is the biggest factor in my success. When I decided to transition, there was no big secret to reveal to my family. And more importantly, no big lie to justify. 

 Imagine the trans woman, I'm her 50’s, as I was, broaching this subject with their spouse of 30+ years. The fact that she is trans is going to be hard enough for the spouse to get over, but she also has to own up to the fact that she has been lying all these years. The lying becomes the bigger factor. No matter how many assurances she gives that she has come clean, the knowledge of years of deceit has poisoned the well.

 Of course it is not as simple as I make it sound, but nothing in life worth having is ever simple.

 If you are trans, and you have a spouse, you owe it to them to tell the truth. It won’t get better if you don’t, but it may if you do. 



Another lesson

I began this journey, not with a big sendoff, but a minor shift in direction. When I decided to start HRT, I was still not sure that I would completely transition. I definitely wanted the feminization that it would bring, but I had not convinced my mind that I could truly be accepted in society as a female. So I had no real timetable, no schedule, no end plan. Just take the HRT and see what happened. There was still this thing inside me that said: ‘You really can’t do this, you will be stuck in a male role the rest of your life’. 


That voice, the voice of doubt, I think lives inside many transgender people. It drives the fear, the self doubt, the depression. When that voice is accompanied by voices from the outside as well, it cements its legitimacy. 

 When society expresses disapproval of anyone outside of their understanding, by misgendering a transgender person, staring incredulously, or openly expressing disapproval, it amplifies that voice. It is nourishment to our internal voice of doubt. You feel like that voice is backed up by the world, and the part of you that feels trans is a lie, a mistake.

 These are things I knew, I understood. So I was expecting a big fight, not just with society, but with my mind, just to progress toward being me. No one is harder to argue with than yourself!

  If you have read my blog, you know that I rarely encountered these outside voices. Society has treated me with the kind of respect and equality that few transgender people experience. My wife and daughters have been on my side 110%. My work colleagues have been exceptional.

 For quite a while now, I hear only She, Her, Ma’am, no matter where I am. That voice of doubt in my head has died from lack of nourishment. I finally believe that I can be accepted. In reality I have been accepted in society. 



 I realized that I have transitioned, sometime back while I was still trying to convince myself that I could, I just went ahead and did.

What I said

This was my speech before the House Committee on State Affairs. My time ran out, so I skipped last few paragraphs, but I got in the last 3 sentences. 



" I was born in 1958, a very different time for our society. As a child I remember my parents taking me downtown, and passing under the sign that hung over Lee Street. “Welcome to Greenville, the blackest land, the whitest people” it read.

The Hunt county court house had public water fountains that read ‘Whites only’ as did their bathrooms.

I would listen to my grandfather talk to other old men at the barber shop. “Ruining the country” they would say. “The women and children just aren’t safe”. They were talking about African Americas wanting equal access to bathrooms.

My Father was a dentist and had to have two patent waiting rooms, one for whites and one for coloreds.
I found out later that there were no African American dentists in town and my fa- ther was the only dentist who would treat people of color. This made him unpopu- lar with many in our town.

As time went by I began to notice things on the news. Protest marches on Washing- ton. Dr. Martin Luther King and Malcolm X were regular stories. One day my dad’s office suddenly had only one waiting room. The ‘Whites only’ signs around town, and the sign over Lee street had disappeared.

Then the news was about radical feminists and how they were destroying the val- ues of the country. More protests. Bra burnings. My mother talking about Gloria Steinem constantly. Women marched on Washington demanding to be treated with respect and equality.

Next the talk was all about how gay teachers would corrupt our children. Televan- gelists damned them to eternal torment from their commercial pulpits.

But laws criminalizing gay relationships were challenged. Challenges popped up all across the country. Gay pride became a thing. Washington was once again the recipient of mass marches.

Humans form who they are by their experiences. We learn by absorbing everything around us. We learn to predict what will happen based on what we have observed.

My entire life seems to have been spent watching one group after another stand up and demand the rights that all humans deserves.

I have also watched the battle to prevent these rights by those who assume to be superior. I have seen how they fight and the tactics they use over and over again.

The transgender right movement has been criticized for making comparisons to the struggles that African American have long suffered. What the critics don’t under- stand is that we are not comparing our struggle to theirs, we are comparing the tac- tics of our oppressors to the tactics of theirs.

Labeling the oppressed as a danger to the public to stoking the flames of hatred have been applied to People of color, Feminists ,homosexuals, and now they are applied to me.

The oppressors use misdirection and Fear mongering to drive the public into a frenzy.

But when they lost ground to African Americans and Feminists they turned their ire on Gay and Lesbian Americans. When they lost the supreme court fight against equal marriage they turned to transgender people.

Now they are ringing the bells far and wide about the eminent threat from the ‘Transgender agenda’ or as we were called last month before the Senate committee on state affairs, the 'Trans Mafia’.

They bring this battle to us, as if we suddenly appeared on earth like an alien in- vader. They believe the transgender community to be an easy target, We are not.

We are your neighbors, your friends, your relatives. We are the parents of precious transgender children.

We are up to this challenge because this is not just about our rights. This is about all humans rights.

One day everyone will treated with respect and equality, and history will tell the story.

Ladies and gentleman of the committee, what side of history do you want to be on?"


Strength in numbers

What Happened last Wednesday April, 19 2017 at the Texas State capital?

After we lost the first round in the battle over Transgender discrimination to the Texas Senate, the fight moved on to the Texas house of representatives on it's way to becoming a law

First, I want to express my gratitude to the many skilled and persistent warriors that came together to fight for human rights. Its an honor to be associated with the Parents, Allies, gender-non conforming and trans people who put in an extremely long day to speak against discrimination and pushed to kill Texas HB2899.

The senate passed SB6 and now the House had to take up the bill. Facing a much more hostile environment, proponents came to the conclusion that it would not pass as written. So they wrote a new bill modeled on the 'compromise' bill recently adopted by the State of North Carolina. This removed specific bathroom language from their HB2 but was still heavily anti LGBTQ+

 Although we had to wait until the wee hours of the next am to speak, we were a constant stream of activity. We took he opportunity to visit with many rep's staff. We stopped by and thanked Representative Turners office for his letter urging the NFL leaders not to be fooled by HB2899. 

 A request for our opinion on the bill prior to the committee hearing was received by Stephanie Martinez and a group was sent to  answer questions in their office.

After an amendment to the so called 'Uber' bill came to light we sent advocates to the house chamber, making our presence, and displeasure known.  The bill contained language to prevent discrimination and stipulated that Uber type services would not discriminate on the basis of sex. The amendment added further language to define 'sex' as "The physical state of being male or female". This would eliminate any interpretation to include sexual orientation or gender identity in that clause. Effectively making discrimination against LGBTQ+ legal.

Volunteers sort through letters for the legislature

Volunteers sort through letters for the legislature

We applied the strength of our numbers to a large stack of documents the HRC needed sorting through. They (the HRC) had collected opinion cards from hundreds of people opposed to LGBTQ+ discrimination and they needed to be sent to the correct Representative. Everyone took a stack, looked up by address the correct rep, marked and sorted them.

Finally the hearing began around 8:30 Wednesday night. There were many bills to get through and the chair said up front HB2899 would be taken last and that all signed up to speak would be heard. Voting on all bills would be postponed to a later meeting.

When HB2899 was finally up, they began with a reading by it's author. It immediately turned into CAHB2899 (committee substitute House Bill) and we learned that it had been narrowed down considerably. The author further stated that they would be presenting a newer version the next day with even narrower language. We feel that this was an attempt to remove the many objections raised by our supporting organizations and the media. The chair informed the bill author that they could only consider the version as presented here and not some future version.

There were many major cities testifying against, Austin, Dallas, El Paso and San Antonio to name a few. The Texas Business Association spoke as well with new data and a representative from the data company to explain their methods. At the senate hearing they were completely disrespected and their data was called flawed, not this time.

The ACLU, HRC, EQTX , Trans United Fund and the  NAACP were among those that spoke against.

The ACLU, HRC, EQTX , Trans United Fund and the  NAACP were among those that spoke against.

There were many, many wonderful testimonies, many powerful, some brought tears to the eyes of the committee and well as the audience. 

They were schooled in the poor state of the proponents data sources, informed that Non-Discrimination ordinances were major draws to people moving to Texas cities and that there would be mass flight if the bill were enacted. There were way too many to list here, but I want to point out a few.

Rachel Gonzales twirls Lilly as Frank and Monica Roberts watches

Rachel Gonzales twirls Lilly as Frank and Monica Roberts watches


Monica Roberts delivered a powerful lesson on the transgender experience. Monica is has been an advocate for Transgender, and Transgender POC rights for many years and is no stranger to political battles.



Claire Bow

Claire Bow


Claire Bow, former Texas assistant attorney general and transgender woman, took a legal approach and shredded the validity of the bill.

Claire is a leading advocate famous for her work helping the transgender community through the legal nightmare that Texas requires for gender marker change,




Anna Nguyen attacked the absurdity of the ‘Uniform law’ argument that had been used in defense of the bill.





Nicole Lynn Perry took Anna's argument further and called for a statewide anti-discrimination law to protect all LGBTQ+ people.




Ash Hall eloquently pointed out the hypocrisy in calling this protection for women, and called on the legislature to concentrate their protection efforts to the college campuses sexual assault crisis.




Rachel & Frank Gonzales, with sleeping children in hand, delivered a powerful message about protecting the children truly in need, the transgender children who would be targets of mental anguish and subjected to increased bullying under this bill.



And I left them with a question: “What side of history will you be on?”


In the end there were 389 registered testimonies. 2 neutral, 18 for and 369 against (95% against). There were 72 who actually spoke to the committee last night, 6 for, 66 against.

The House committee on State affairs was a far more fair and unbiased panel that the senate version. The chair was extremely diligent in handling everyone by the rules, and applied them evenly. While some of his comments could be seen as helping one side or the other, and both were seen, careful examination shows that he was just applying the rules of the committee. Thank you Mr. Chairman, I applaud your fairness.

In that light many of the ‘Alternate facts’ presented by the proponents were called into question for their validity, something the senate committee was incapable of.

 It was a long day and a half with some putting in a 20+ hour day, with many of us finally getting to bed at or after the time we got up the day before.

 Did we ‘Win’? We don’t know yet and won’t until the committee gets some well deserved rest and convinces to take a vote. But the mood of the advocates was good and we felt we truly had a chance to make our case in a fair and unbiased forum.


Have Faith

I have a bit of a departure from my normal blog today. As some of you know, I have become involved with fight against Texas Senate Bill 6 (SB6) the so called bathroom bill.

The group I have been working with needed a press release addressing Texas Values ‘Faith & Family day’. An Anti-Transgender lobby day and rally held in Austin Texas at the state capital last Thursday.

 They used radical religious pretext to condemn transgender people with false interpretation of the Bible.

 So we reached out out to Leaders of Faith and received a flood of supporting messages. The press release had limited space, So here are some more of the kind, compassionate messages for faith from a far ranging collection if faiths and borders.

I hope they move you as much as they did me.

I'm an Episcopal priest. When I saw that we had all gender restrooms at my first call (St. Mary's Episcopal Church), I felt an overwhelming sense of relief. I knew that at least if there was some knowledge of gender and a space that I could safely use the restroom without fear of judgement - and that I could continue to be a priest in my Church. My community is still learning. Some are learning my pronouns and some of my parishioners are totally unaware that I am non binary.  But many people in my community are trying. And that's what counts. I can go to work and be me, and not have to hide who I am - a queer and non binary person just trying to pray and learn how to follow Jesus with my community. I can't imagine what a young person might feel like, having to go to school every day - a place they might not always want to be in the first place- and not be able to use the restroom that works for them. It's inhumane. God loves trans and gender nonconforming people. Keeping trans and gender nonconforming people from safer spaces is un-loving, and is hurtful and dangerous. In places that are supposed to nourish learning and emotional growth, I expect better. I urge all to oppose SB6.


Rev. Kacei Conyers

St. Mary's Episcopal Church

Anchorage, AK 99507

Hi Jess,

My name is James Joiner, I'm an Episcopal priest and the Assistant Rector of St. Michael & All Angels Episcopal Church in Portland, Oregon. Avery Belyeu suggested that I get in touch with you about my support, as a faith leader, of transgender rights. I am deeply opposed to Texas Sb6 and all other legislation which seeks to limit the freedom of transgender persons in public space. My Christian faith reminds me to respect and honor the dignity of all people as made in the image of God, and my trust in Galatians 3:28 tells me that binary gender is something which is surpassed in the new creation Christ inaugurates in the world. Attempts to limit the freedom of transgender people are antithetical to Christian faith and need to be stopped. Let me know if there's anything I can do to help.


The Rev. James Michael Joiner

Associate Rector, St. Michael & All Angels

Dear Jess,

I saw a message on Facebook from Avery Beyleu and I just went to Trans United's website and saw that your press release is already out, however I'm happy to offer my personal and organizational support. The Religious Institute has a large national network of faith leaders and we did the major outreach on the faith amicus brief for the Gavin Grimm case. 1850 religious leaders signed that brief in support of transgender justice. http://religiousinstitute.org/2000-clergy-standwithgavin/ 

You might also be interested in the National Weekend of Prayer for Transgender Justice.  https://www.nationalweekendofprayer.org/ 

Again, please don't hesitate to be in touch if we can be helpful at any point in your work.

Best regards,


Rev. Marie Alford-Harkey

President and CEO, Religious Institute
Religion. Sexuality. Justice.

135 Clarence Street, Suite 206

Bridgeport, CT 06608

Dear Jess,

I am a SGL ordained United Church of Christ pastor and I'm writing to voice my support for transgender rights by stating that I do not support Texas Bill SB6. Please add my name to a list of clergy who stand against SB6 and stand in support of our transgender siblings. 

And please let me know if there is anything I can do that will be helpful in this act of resistance. 

Sursum Corda,

Rev. Eve L. Gorrell M.Div.

Good morning, Jess,

Please add my name to the press release you are writing to counter the Austin Family Values rally.


Steve Sprinkle


Stephen V. Sprinkle, Ph.D.

Director of Field Education and Supervised Ministry, and 

Professor of Practical Theology

Director of Baptist Programming

Brite Divinity School

TCU Box 298130

Fort Worth, Texas 76129

As a Christian minister, father, husband, and advocate for all people, I support trans people’s rights to privacy, acceptance, family, and self-expression. The violence and hurt that SB6 will cause to trans people and those who love them will be immense. Let us lead by example and provide dignity and care for all in the name of our faith, our families, and our moral compasses. As a Christian pastor I am called to love and to protect. SB6 will not do either. I support trans people and reject SB6.


Rev. Dr. Michael L. Gregg

Pastor, Royal Lane Baptist Church

Rev. Dr. Michael L. Gregg | Pastor

Royal Lane Baptist Church (visit)

6707 Royal Lane | Dallas, TX 75230

Rev. Karen Romestan 

Unity on Greenville, Dallas TX

I support families, the many ways that families are made.  I honor the many faces of faith and spirituality of each individual regardless of race, gender, or any external appearances


Rev.  Karen

Jess Herbst, 

It has been brought to my attention that you are heading upa group of ordained ministers of all faiths drafting a letter against the "Texas Values" of the trans bathroom bill. I would like to be involved in it to show my support in the Trans Community. If there is anyway I can be a part of it I would love to do my part. 


Rev. John David Creamer

Sr. Pastor 

Life Covenant Church

Tyler, Texas


My name is Rev. David Lee from Fort Worth Texas. I am the children's minister at First Christian Church in Rowlett, Texas. I stand with the Trans community against the SB6 bill. This bill is blatantly unchristian in the way that it treats those in our community who are marginalized and as a Minister I could never support legislation like this that would put Trans people even more at risk. They are a vital part of our community and we should not treat them as anything less.

Rev. David Lee

Children's Minister

First Christian Church Rowlett


Hello, Jess,

I’m Rev. Charley Garrison and I’m the pastor of Metropolitan Community Church in Waco.I’mopposed to SB6 and I would like to tell you why. I’ve had several Transgender members of my congregation over the years.  Cat Grider and Ronny Slider-Parks are two who I’ve had the privilege of hearing their personal stories.  And what has struck me is the sheer terror they both have experienced in public restrooms as they’ve transitioned.  I have heard that the reasoning for SB6 is to protect folks from sexual predators.  And I’m all for that.  But the fact is that laws already exist to protect against sexual predators. 

But I foresee a rise in violence and brutality against the Transgender community when a Transgender woman is forced to use a men’s restroom and a Transgender man is forced to use a women’s restroom.  My faith calls me to love my neighbor, especially the marginalized.  So I stand in solidarity with my Transgender siblings and stand against SB6.


Rev. Charley Garrison

Pastor, Central Texas Metropolitan Community Church

Waco, TX

Dear Jess, I received a communication from Avery Belyeu that you are working on a press release related to the Texas Family Values rally in Austin today. I understand you need clergy signatures in support. I am more than glad to have my name included. My information is in my signature below. Please let me know if you are in need of anything else. Thank you for your good work. —Jo

Rev. Dr. Jo Hudson

17290 Preston Road, #100

Dallas, Texas 75252



Trans lives our sacred lives because they are human lives. Trans folk are created by and in the image of a holy and loving God, and like all of humanity have a divinely conferred right to flourish. The denial of basic human and civil rights, such as denial of access to an appropriate toilet is immoral, unethical, and inhumane. As a person of faith and an an Episcopal priest, I stand with my trans kin and against the discrimination to which they are subject, including at the hands of the state to which they pay taxes. 


The Rev. Wil Gafney, Ph.D. +

Priest, Diocese of Fort Worth and,

Associate Professor of Hebrew Bible 

Brite Divinity School, Ft. Worth, TX

As a gay man, a priest, a student of Christian scripture, and a follower of Jesus, I am vehemently opposed to Texas' SB6. 

Some support for such legislation claims to stem from the hope of protecting women and children from predators, although there are no documented cases of transpeople committing violence. There are, however, statistical reports suggesting around 70% of trans people attempting to use the bathroom that matches their gender are harassed, attacked, or denied access. SB6 would only stoke the fears of trans people and increase the likelihood of attack. 

Some support for legislation like SB6 roots itself in rudimentary understandings only of biology, along the lines of "We learn in kindergarten there are boys and girls." Basing policy in elementary-level education is improper and ignores the Christian value of education, growth, and maturation of thought. Paul writes in the 1 Corinthians about being fed on milk — that is simple knowledge — at an early age, and growing into readiness for solid food. Physicians, psychologists, and sociologists all acknowledge that gender identity is more complex than simple biology, and as a Christian I rely on the solid food — the education and research — for understanding the world around me.

Trans people — as a demographic — are some of the most likely to be physically attacked (and killed) in the United States, particularly trans women of color. They are indubitably oppressed, living in fear: fear of attack, fear of rejection by friends and family, living in fear of inability to perform certain biological functions as a result of legislation like SB6. 

In Luke 4 Jesus makes clear that he has come to release the oppressed, and in following his example I work for the same. I vehemently reject SB6 and other such legislation based not in concern but in fear and I embrace the struggles and witness of trans people who despite obstacles hear Jesus' call "fear not" — whether they are Christians or people of faith or not. 

The Rev. Joseph Peters-Mathews

Episcopal priest

Seattle, WA

“I am an ordained rabbi and Transgender Woman.  I am most assuredly opposed to any legislation which restricts any person’s rights.  As a transgender activist, I have fought tirelessly to oppose such legislation in Washington State, where I live, and I reject the Texas attempt to pass SB6.

 It is important for Christians to remember such teachings as “Love your neighbor as yourself” and “Judge not lest you be judged.”  Further, it is vital you remember Jesus’ actions.  He did not block or oppress the marginalized in his society. He gave them comfort and healing.

In addition, there have never been any cases of transgender women assaulting women in bathrooms, however forcing transgender women into men’s rooms WILL cause assaults against transgender women.  Thus this bill violates the teaching of “do not put a stumbling block before the blind.”

 This legislation is mean spirited, bigoted and based on false and flawed premises.  I call on the people of Texas to reject this bill.”



Rabbah Rona Matlow


Team Lead/Operator at Trans Lifeline - www.translifeline.org 


Jess Herbst,

Thank you for your continued perseverance for the transgender and gender expansive community of Texas. Avery Belyeu noted you were seeking statements of solidarity.

The first baptized christian who was not Jewish was gender expansive, a eunuch who could move about female only and male only spaces, that Texas would no longer provide this earliest of Christians a refuge calls into question the state's ability to value the religious beliefs of any Christian or any individual. It is sad to see such religious intolerance placed into law.

I hope this statement can assist you in some way. I am traveling with a group of transgender and gender expansive college students to a conference in Texas this summer and already we are struggling to figure out how this law will impact our time there. 



The Rev'd Fr. Benjamin N. Garren

Episcopal Chaplain to the University of Arizona

Chap. Ben Garren



Christian Campus Center

715 N Park Ave.

Tucson, AZ   85719

Dear Jess,

Please add my name to the list of names endorsing your press release, in response to the Texas Family Value rally. Though I haven’t read your press release, I trust my colleague Steve Sprinkle at Brite Divinity School (below).

Thank you.

Rev. Dr. Timothy S. Lee, PhD

Ordained Minister of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)

"I have a deep sense of sadness that our Texas lawmakers would even consider passing SB6, which clearly discriminates against the already very vulnerable transgender community and claims to protect women and children from a threat that does not exist.  Passing this law is an act of violence against transgender citizens and will leave them living in fear and at great physical risk.  I have been a pastor of congregations which have included transgender members for more than 30 years without even one incident of inappropriate behavior from our transgender members and visitors.  But, 100% of those transgender folks have faced discrimination and fear for their safety when out in public venues.  It is time for our Texas elected officials to stand for the rights and protections of all citizens.  I urge you to stop this bill from going forward."

Rev. Ken Ehrke  Senior Pastor at Embrace United Church of Christ - Bedford, TX

Glad to join clergy standing with trans

Rev. Dr. Joretta L Marshall

Brite Div ity School

Confidence is like a Muscle

I remember the first times I did anything as Jess. I remember being terrified to leave the house, sitting in my car the first time I went to a Meet-up gathering. Remember the fear when I heard another girl suggest a shopping trip to a local mall. I remember the knot in the pit of my stomach on my way into the office to come out at work.

 All of these things evoked strong emotions, and strong emotions get a special place in the brain.


 Although I did not understand it at the time, each experience was like a workout for my confidence. The fear was the pain of my confidence being stretched out of range. Each new time growing in effort and complexity, just like a workout routine.


 My life has been hectic of late and I make commitments and hope that I remember to put them in my calendar. This morning I awoke to my Alexa was sounding the alarm. I did a quick check to see if I could ‘Snooze’ a bit more. The calendar on my phone showed a meeting at 10am. with the county Sheriff, so no snooze for me.

 We have a new Sheriff in Collin County, and I was not sure why he called the meeting, but he is responsible for the safety of my towns citizens, so if he wants to meet, we meet.

 Entering the County Sheriffs office is a surreal experience for a newly out transgender. These are no-nonsense kind of people. They deal with life and death daily, not transgender mayors.

Yet everyone was very friendly and welcoming. The Sheriff greeted me with a smile and handshake. He asked how things were going for both the town and me, obviously well-read, he was aware of my situation, and offered genuine interest in my answers.


 We sat down to business at hand: The rapid population growth of our county and it’s effects. He had a plan to increase the level of protection, both for my citizens and his officers. He laid out his figures and detailed his intentions. I found his plan logical and well thought out and will present it to my council next week. It was a good meeting.

 As I left, I thought about how this whole thing would have effected me just 2 years ago. I could not have done it. But every time I have overcome a fear, I have exercised my confidence, and now it is strong enough to handle this day with ease.




A couple of weeks before the media storm, I got a Facebook message from a friend about a transwoman she recently met named Dani. She wanted me to meet her as she is running for the house of Representatives in 2018. Dani & I chatted via Facebook and she seemed really great.

She was holding a kickoff rally for her campaign this past Saturday and I decided to attend. 

Although we had chatted, I knew little of her platform. What was her message? How did she stand on various issues? These are all critical things to me, I need to know what people stand for.

 My wife and I arrived fashionable late. The venue was a cool pub in an old and trendy neighborhood of Dallas with outdoor dining. The clientele was a mixed crowd, with ages ranging from early twenties to well into their 60’s. A good sign in my opinion.

I met her campaign manager, her wife, her mother and quite a few supporters. Then Dani took to the stage, well stood on a picnic table in this case, and began her speech.

 She told us of a very different political beliefs in her past. She made no bones about it. ‘I used to believe this way, and I was wrong’ she told the crowd. This struck me, and the crowd, as very gutsy, and impressive.

 She then went on to outline her policies and why she felt now was the time for action. It all rang true with me.

 Here is a woman running for The U.S. House of representatives. The number of votes she will have to get outnumber the population of my town by a factor of several thousand. This girl has guts, this is bravery, she is a representative of the transgender community.

 We (the transgender community) have awakened, our eyes are open and no longer diverted in shame. We finally understand that if we want equality, we have to have a voice in government.