Legislation to end child gender mutilation procedures in Texas received initial approval in the Texas House, marking the first time the House has voted on a measure to ban the practice.
The vote comes after two previous attempts this session to pass the legislation were derailed after Democrats raised objections on procedural grounds to the bill. Speaker Dade Phelan upheld those points of order and twice sent the bill back to committee.
Senate Bill 14 by State Sen. Donna Campbell (R–New Braunfels), would protect children from being chemically castrated by puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones and from receiving mutilative surgeries to “transition” them.
But while the legislation was passed by the Senate in early April, the approval in the House came over month later—and close to the chamber’s May 23 deadline to pass Senate bills.
State Rep. Tom Oliverson (R–Cypress) who sponsored the legislation in the House, fielded hours of debate from Democrats who opposed any restrictions on gender mutilation for children.
“We don’t treat mental health disorders with surgery. We treat mental health disorders with mental health treatments,” said Oliverson when presenting the bill.
State Rep. Tony Tinderholt (R–Arlington) was also among those leading the charge to pass the legislation.
“Let’s send a message to the millions of Texans that we will protect Texas children,” Tinderholt told the members.
That did not stop Democrats from predictably dragging out debate for hours, offering amendments that ranged from exempting hormone therapy, lowering the age to from 18 to 16, and placing a sunset date on the bill.
Each attempt failed, however, along largely party-line votes. It received approval on a bipartisan 92-48 vote, including Democrat State Rep. Shawn Thierry (Houston) who joined Republicans in supporting the measure.
“Certainly, children at age eight, nine, and ten don’t understand that these operations will make them lifelong patients,” said Thierry.
Matt Rinaldi, the chairman of the Republican Party of Texas, celebrated the long-fought win for one of the party’s legislative priorities.
“Grassroots Republicans have worked hard for years to pass legislation protecting children from medical butchers and greedy pharmaceutical interests. Thank you to Senator Campbell and Representative Oliverson for your professional expertise, poise, and grace in ushering SB 14 through the legislative process,” said Rinaldi.
The legislation requires one additional vote by the House before being sent to the Senate to approve some minor changes. It will then be sent to Gov. Greg Abbott.