Despite a years-long fight to protect children in Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott and top Republican state lawmakers continue to allow medical practitioners to perform disfiguring gender operations on minors—but Texas’ new pro-family organization is stepping into the fight.

“Right now, corrupt doctors and Big Pharma are sexually transitioning our kids right here in Texas, and Greg Abbott’s political appointees are helping them,” said the new digital ad by nonprofit American Principles Project (APP).

The issue in Texas drew an international spotlight several years ago with the child abuse case of Dallas-area 9-year-old James Younger, whose mother told him he was a girl and wanted to force him—against his father’s wishes—to take sterilizing puberty blocker and cross-sex hormone drugs and eventually be castrated.

James’ case became a statewide rallying cry on the issue, with the Republican Party of Texas making it a legislative priority and more than 2 million GOP primary voters supporting a ban on the operations. However, at the state Capitol in Austin last year, top Republican lawmakers repeatedly killed the effort, and Abbott repeatedly refused to bring up the issue in the Legislature’s three special sessions.

Abbott has also faced criticism because his appointed officials (including at the University of Texas and Texas Department of Family and Protective Services) are allowing and promoting the practices.

“Texas is one of the reddest states in America. But it’s currently legal for doctors to perform dangerous sex transitions on children,” posted APP last week. “Governor @GregAbbott_TX refuses to do anything about it. Tell Gov. Abbott to protect Texas children.”

APP’s new ad is part of its $1 million campaign on the issue; last week, the nonprofit announced its “Big Family Pledge” to “help voters by getting candidates on the record regarding the most important issues facing America’s families.” Three of Abbott’s Republican primary challengers—Allen West, Don Huffines, and Chad Prather—have already signed the pledge, but the governor has so far declined to sign.

“For too long, political leaders have been allowed to campaign on being ‘pro-family’ without making any specific promises to parents. That time is over,” said APP President Terry Schilling. “We’ve taken the Big Family Pledge to Texas candidates first, as Texas has one of the earliest primaries in the country and is a state of unique importance to families.”

Early voting in the statewide primary election began Monday, and Election Day is March 1.

Jacob Asmussen

Jacob Asmussen is a Senior Journalist for Texas Scorecard. He attended the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor and in 2017 earned a double major in public relations and piano performance.