AUSTIN — As the state Legislature begins their July special session, citizens and representatives are questioning whether Gov. Greg Abbott will add to the agenda an urgently needed ban on child disfigurement operations.

A few weeks ago, Abbott called for a special 30-day legislative session after the Republican-controlled Legislature chose not to complete priority work during the regular 140-day session earlier this year. Abbott also has the authority to set the legislative to-do list for a special session, which he announced yesterday.

One priority that did not make his list, however, was protecting children from scarring procedures.

In the regular session earlier this year, Republican legislators proposed several laws to prohibit medical professionals from performing mutilating procedures on minors, such as cutting off healthy body parts or administering sterilizing cross-sex hormones.

The proposals supported one of the top eight priorities of the Republican Party of Texas and came after the case of James Younger, a 9-year-old boy from Dallas, drew a national spotlight. Texas Scorecard recently produced a featured story on James, whose mother wanted to force him—against his father’s wishes—to take sterilizing drugs and eventually castrate him.

However, in the halls of the Capitol, Republicans in the House of Representatives destroyed the effort to protect James and countless other Texas children, using political and parliamentary tactics to kill the proposed laws.

Though Abbott did not include the child protections on his special session list, he does have the authority to add items throughout the 30 days of the special session—and citizens have been admonishing him to do just that.

“The most appalling failure [of the Legislature] was that of protecting children from so-called ‘sex changes,’ by puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones, and sterilizing and mutilating surgery by medical butchers. That our legislators could not see fit to prevent this child abuse is beyond any rational understanding,” wrote Jill Glover, chairman of the Texas GOP’s legislative priority committee.

“Surely the Governor is aware that Texas now has over 16 pediatric gender clinics that offer these types of procedures, and that there is a concerted effort to advance this dangerous ideology,” she added.

“We are asking all Texans to call the Governor and ask him to add this to the Special Session. We know that there is bipartisan support on this issue. We do not sterilize adults without their consent in this state, so how on earth can we allow it to happen to children who are not capable of giving consent?”

“Children must be saved from a lifetime of regret, sterility, and confusion,” wrote the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention in a public letter to Abbott. They added that Arkansas passed a similar child protection law earlier this year, making it the first state to do so. More than a dozen other states are currently considering similar laws.

“We must stop providers from being allowed to profit off our children and perform these harmful gender reassignment procedures and puberty blocking hormones. Texas must act now to protect our children.”

Additionally, the Texas Freedom Caucus—a group of Republican state representatives who claim to support conservative principles—sent a similar public letter to Abbott last week. On Wednesday, State Rep. Bryan Slaton (R–Royse City) and State Sen. Bob Hall both introduced legislation on the issue, despite the governor’s current inaction.

Slaton’s proposed law, identical to one that failed during the regular session, would classify such disfiguring operations as child abuse. Hall’s proposal would prohibit insurance coverage of such procedures and revoke medical licenses of those who perform them.

“For years now, Texas has allowed this barbaric and evil practice of child gender modification to quickly infect our society and culture, and destroy the lives of countless young Texans,” said Slaton in a press release. “I am urgently calling on Governor Greg Abbott to add this legislation to the agenda for this special session.”

Thus far, Abbott has been mostly silent on the issue. His last traceable public comment on the matter was nearly two years ago, when he posted a single tweet mentioning the case of James Younger.

Concerned citizens may contact their state representative, their state senator, or Gov. Abbott.

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.