As House District 91 heads to the May runoff, a candidate forum on Wednesday hosted by the Fort Worth Republican Women allowed for a conversation on issues important to the grassroots, with child gender mutilation taking center stage.

Incumbent State Rep. Stephanie Klick (R–Fort Worth) faces David Lowe in May after constituents voiced their disapproval with Klick’s record—particularly her alleged lack of support for prohibiting child gender mutilation.

Ending child gender mutilation is a Republican priority with the ballot proposition—supported by more than 92 percent of Texas Republican voters—stating, “Texas should ban chemical castration, puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones, and genital mutilation surgery on all minor children for sex transition purposes.”

The issue gained notoriety following the case of Dallas-area boy James Younger, whose mother told him that he is a girl and wanted—against his father’s wishes—to force him to take puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones and eventually be castrated.

As chairwoman of the House Committee on Public Health, Klick heard several bills relating to outlawing child gender mutilation. However, accusations from grassroots activists claim that Klick worked to kill bills relating to halting child gender mutilation, with several bills addressing the issue being blocked or slow-walked out of the committee in time to be killed by the clock.

Klick acknowledged that some of the bills referred to her committee were indeed killed, but she says House Bill 1399 was in fact passed from the committee, calling it “the strongest bill addressing this issue.”

“It was the better bill. It actually codified these provisions in the occupations code as a prohibited practice, which then involves not just doctors, but nurses and other professionals that are involved in this type of care,” said Klick.

Some of the other bills sought to label child gender mutilation as child abuse, which Klick’s opponent, David Lowe, supports.

However, Klick claims that “the bills that [labels child gender mutilation as child abuse] deal with CPS; you still have a court and a [district attorney] involved. We’ve got DAs around the state who’ve already said that they’re not going to prosecute these cases. So, we will essentially get the effect of not stopping the procedures.”

“If we as Republicans cannot stop this garbage, then what are we even doing here?” Lowe asked, championing support for labeling the practice as abuse. “I will fight for children,” he proclaimed.

Lowe also called Klick’s donation history into question, stating, “The Texas Nurses Association, who labeled her as a legislative champion, openly supports gender-affirming care. So, she also took money from AbbVie pharmaceuticals. They are the largest manufacturer of puberty blockers.”

Apart from their heated exchange over child gender mutilation, the candidates also discussed redistricting and abortion.

In the redistricting process, Tarrant County’s House District 92 went from a Republican seat to what will ultimately become a Democrat seat in November. Current HD 92 State Rep. Jeff Cason (R–Bedford) had previously accused Klick of punishing him for refusing to bow down to House leadership by redistricting him out and stripping the county of a Republican seat.

Klick refuted this accusation, saying Cason later apologized to her for the accusation and that she did not even access the redistricting software until maps had gone through committee. She claimed, “The reason why I did not do so is anybody that is involved in redistricting is probably going to spend the next 10 years in court doing depositions. I had plenty to do with my six committees that I’m on in the Legislature.”

Cason told Texas Scorecard that while he did at one point apologize for being quick to name Klick publicly, he was ultimately vindicated when she voted against maps to return a Republican seat to the county.

“It appeared my initial implication of Stephanie was premature … until after a face-to-face meeting with her, where she committed to supporting any map I came up with, as long as it kept her district at 60 percent Republican or above. And then she voted against that,” said Cason.

“After the dust settled, my suspicions were proved out that Stephanie was complicit.”

The 87th Texas Legislature did pass the Heartbeat Act—which prohibits abortions after a heartbeat is detected—and it passed through Klick’s Public Health Committee. Lowe acknowledged that win and wants to abolish abortion entirely, stating, “I will never apologize for trying to abolish abortion.”

Klick, however, said she took issue with bills to abolish abortion that she claimed could potentially subject women to the death penalty for aborting their children, a characterization Lowe disagreed with.

The runoff election is slated for May 24.

The full candidate forum can be viewed here.

Sydnie Henry

A born and bred Texan, Sydnie serves as the Managing Editor for Texas Scorecard. She graduated from Patrick Henry College with a B.A. in Government and is utilizing her research and writing skills to spread truth to Texans.