AUSTIN — Texas children may soon be protected from potentially permanently scarring procedures if state lawmakers finish their work.

On Tuesday, the Texas Senate approved Senate Bill 1646, which would classify certain disfiguring and mutilating operations on minors as child abuse.

These operations include administering a “puberty suppression prescription drug or cross-sex hormone to a child, other than an intersex child, for the purpose of gender transitioning or gender reassignment” or performing surgery on the child for a similar purpose.

The issue has taken a recent national spotlight in Texas with the case of James Younger, a young boy whose mother wanted to force him—against the father’s wishes—to take sterilizing drugs and eventually castrate him.

“What is the medical side of treatment? It’s chemical castration by puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones starting at age 8,” said the boy’s father, Jeff Younger, at a recent press conference. “Of the children that go onto this protocol, almost all of them go onto surgical transition. So, they were looking to put my son on the path to surgical transition as early as age 8.”

“[These operations] put that child in a position [where] they’ll never father their own kids,” said the bill’s author, Sen. Charles Perry. “I can’t imagine anything more oppressive than to know that parents made a decision for me as a child that I have regretted every day in my adulthood. … Let the child be a mature enough level to make that decision on their own.”

Tragically, Younger’s case is among a rapidly growing number. According to psychologist Sarah Jessica Fields, disfiguring children is now a multibillion-dollar industry.

“There are now vast corporate interests in the medicalization of gender nonconforming children. … It has grown at a shocking pace in a few years, and there are more children’s gender clinics now than there are adult gender clinics, because that’s where the money is,” said Fields, who is also the director of advocacy for the Texas Freedom Coalition.

She added that coercing or forcing children into permanently scarring surgeries is not only child abuse, but it also defies all basic scientific facts that all doctors and psychologists are taught.

“As a gerontologist and a psychologist, I can assure you that at the young age of 8 years old, the frontal lobe is not developed; it is not ready to assess the decision to permanently change their own human body. … [That fact] is not news, so this tells me that science is being ignored in order for profits to be gained by the transgender industry. … There are multiple industries profiting from the industrial scale of child abuse,” Fields said.

“The American College of Pediatricians states, when gender dysphoria occurs in a pre-pubertal child, it resolves in 80-95 percent of patients by late adolescence,” wrote the Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops. “Medical interventions such as cross-sex hormones, puberty-blockers, and sex reassignment surgeries often are irreversible, interrupt natural bodily developmental processes, and can result in infertility and other serious health risks.”

The Senate approved the Republican-led bill on a party-line vote of 18 for and 13 against. On Tuesday, Democrats argued parents should have the right to have their child’s healthy body parts cut off, a claim rebuked by bill co-author Sen. Bob Hall (R–Edgewood).

“This is all about protecting children,” Hall said. “We have other things that are practiced by some cultures. There was a time when parents would actually mutilate a child if they were caught stealing … cut a hand off. I don’t think we would allow that today. And some would say that would be interfering with parental rights.”

The proposal will now need one more procedural vote, then it will travel across the Capitol to the Texas House for consideration. If approved there, the bill will end up on the governor’s desk to be signed into law.

The State Legislature has only 33 days left in their legislative session. Concerned citizens may contact their state representatives.