AUSTIN — The fight to protect Texas children against disfiguring medical operations is culminating in the Texas House of Representatives during the final days of the state legislative session.
On Monday, the Texas Senate approved Senate Bill 1311, which would prohibit medical professionals from performing mutilating procedures on minors, such as cutting off healthy body parts or administering sterilizing cross-sex hormones.
The bill also prohibits insurance providers from funding such operations and would revoke the medical licenses of physicians who engage in them.
“The Texas Medical Board or another state regulatory agency with jurisdiction over a health care provider … shall revoke the license, certification, or authorization of a physician or health care provider who the board or agency determines has violated that section,” the bill reads.
“I think we have a responsibility for protecting children. … I think our job is to protect those who can’t protect themselves,” said the bill’s author, State Sen. Bob Hall (R–Edgewood).
The overall issue of child mutilation has taken a recent national spotlight 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. Texas Scorecard recently produced a featured story on James.
In the halls of the state Capitol, however, the fight to protect James and countless other Texas children has been halted thus far by Republican House representatives.
Though the Republican-controlled Texas Senate has now approved SB 1311—as well as Senate Bill 1646, which would classify similar disfiguring operations as child abuse—the Republican-controlled Texas House has already stalled or killed several child protection bills.
Specifically, State Rep. Dustin Burrows (R–Lubbock), chairman of the powerful Calendars Committee, and State Rep. Stephanie Klick (R–Ft. Worth), chairwoman of the Public Health Committee, have refused to push SB 1646 or similar child protection laws forward in the legislative process despite citizen outcry, the Texas GOP prioritizing these protections, and top state officials recently joining the fight.
Last week, Burrows placed a similar bill (House Bill 1399) at the end of a long legislative calendar just before a legislative deadline, effectively killing that proposed law.
“Texans deserve to know what is going on regarding legislation that would ban sex change surgeries,” wrote State Rep. Bryan Slaton (R–Royse City), who has been actively fighting for the protections.
“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.
“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. … Be respectful, but be firm.”
With the Senate’s approval of SB 1311 on Monday, on top of SB 1646, they have given the House two primary opportunities to pass these protections into law. But the clock is ticking, as lawmakers have only 13 days left in the legislative session.