Local Transgender Mayor Plans Protest At State Capitol Bathrooms As House Votes on Budget

Jess Herbst, Mayor of New Hope
Jess Herbst, Mayor of New Hope Brian Maschino
A local mayor has organized a group of transgender people to position themselves in front of bathrooms at the state capitol today as the House of Representatives meets to vote on a budget.

The protesters say the budget bill is littered with amendments that they claim target the transgender community and collectively serve as a Trojan horse for Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s so-called bathroom bill, Senate Bill 6. That budget has more than 400 amendments attached to it.

One amendment prevents the Texas Department of Criminal Justice from providing funds to an inmate seeking any surgery related to sex reassignment or gender identity transitioning. Another seeks to limit certain expenditures spent to construct, renovate or reclassify bathrooms, showers or locker rooms. The amendments include the language: “or to allow or enable a man to enter a women’s restroom facility or a woman to enter a men’s restroom facility.”

New Hope Mayor Jess Herbst, who is trans, says she’s formed a group of trans men who plan to stand in front of a women’s restroom with a sign that reads, “Do you think I belong here?” She also has gender-nonconforming people who appear both masculine and feminine holding signs that read, “Where do I go pee?”

“There is no public hearing on Senate Bill 1,” Herbst says of the budget. “These are amendments that are slapped on. So we’re there, just as a reminder.”

Herbst claims the bathroom bill and similar amendments will simply backlog the criminal system with people being misidentified and says any trouble people cause in bathrooms is already covered under existing public lewdness laws.

Herbst posted an event called “Transgender March on Bathroom Bills.” She says she has enough people to cover 50 bathrooms, but she’s invited more supporters to show up. “Understand that even if we defeat SB6 proper, these amendments will accomplish its discrimination anyway, so it’s critical to stop them,” she wrote in an April 3 Facebook post. “There are no public hearings, no opportunity to speak as the public, so we must be visible.”
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Christian McPhate is an award-winning journalist who specializes in investigative reporting. He covers crime, the environment, business, government and social justice. His work has appeared in several publications, including the Dallas Morning News, the Fort Worth Star Telegram, the Miami Herald, San Antonio Express News and The Washington Times.