AUSTIN — While children across the state currently face chemical and surgical castration, Republican state lawmakers are refusing to protect them.
The issue of child disfigurement has taken a recent national spotlight in Texas with the case of James Younger, a 9-year-old Dallas-area boy whose mother wanted to force him—against his father’s wishes—to take sterilizing drugs and eventually castrate him.
In response, Texas legislators have considered two proposed state laws on the issue: House Bill 1399, which would prohibit medical professionals from performing certain disfiguring operations on minors (such as cutting off healthy body parts or administering sterilizing cross-sex hormones), and Senate Bill 1646, which would classify such procedures as child abuse.
Yet curiously, Republican legislators in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives have stalled the efforts—namely, State Rep. Dustin Burrows, chairman of the powerful Calendars Committee, and State Rep. Stephanie Klick, chairwoman of the Public Health Committee.
Klick has the power to determine if the two child protection bills move forward in the legislative process, and Burrows has the power to then schedule the bills for the full House chamber.
Despite citizen outcry, the Texas GOP prioritizing these protections, top state officials joining the fight, and the Texas Senate approving SB 1646, House Republicans have refused to move the proposed laws forward in the final weeks of the legislative session and even killed HB 1399 earlier this week.
“Texas House calendars committee has basically killed HB 1399 by placing it very far down on the calendar so that we won’t vote on it before the midnight deadline on Thursday,” he said. “Our last chance to save Texas children from this barbaric practice lies in SB 1646. [Chairmen] Stephanie Klick and Dustin Burrows will have to work together to make sure we vote on SB 1646 before the May 25th deadline.”
“I keep asking myself: Why do we have to work this hard to get our elected officials to protect children in this state?” said James Younger’s father, Jeff, in a recent interview with Slaton. “All of them actually agree with us; privately, they’ll tell us they agree with us.”
Younger said despite their words in private, the calendars committee in public used a “time-honored technique for killing [the bill] here at the Legislature.”
“Of the Republicans on that committee, five of them are authors of [HB 1399]. They never voted to schedule their own bill,” he said.
“The game that’s being played on you and the grassroots, Republican voters, conservative voters … they want you to think they’re conservative by producing these bills, and then they go with the liberal establishment and delay these bills so they’re never voted on,” Younger continued.
“And let me tell you how that feels as a father. They know about my son. All of them have seen pictures of my son. … The bill author for [HB] 1399 [State Rep. Matt Krause] hasn’t even shown up to any of the press events or rallies that we’ve held.”
“When you’re a father and your son is facing physical castration, chemical castration at a gender clinic, it feels like the Republican Party in the state of Texas has abandoned your child to the most horrible fate,” Younger concluded. “So, please call Chairman Klick. Tell her to get this Senate bill out. This is our last chance. … Be respectful, but be firm.”
“I want you to also think: If this was your child or your grandchild, what would you want an elected official to do?” Rep. Slaton said. “If you’ve never made one political phone call, now is the time.”
Though the window has closed on HB 1399, the chamber could still take action on SB 1646—but the clock is ticking.