Despite Texas' reputation as a conservative bastion, a bill banning chemical and surgical sex changes for children younger than 18 failed to be scheduled for a vote in the House after stall tactics were deployed, according to activists and insiders.
A bill to prohibit medicalized gender-transitioning of children — the prescribing of puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones, and performing cosmetic surgeries such as mastectomies and genital mutilation — passed the state Senate in late April. But when the bill moved to the House, it stalled in the Calendars Committee which didn't put the bill on the docket to be debated and voted on in the lower chamber.
Child advocacy groups who were in Austin lobbying lawmakers to pass the measure said Republicans on the committee used stall tactics to evade having to vote on the contentious measure that was opposed by LGBT activists and major corporations.
The text of the legislation, HB 1399, bans the experimental practices on children suffering from gender dysphoria “for the purpose of transitioning a child's biological sex as determined by the sex organs, chromosomes, and endogenous profiles of the child or affirming the child's perception of the child's sex if that perception is inconsistent with the child's biological sex.”
An exception was granted in the legislation for those with rare disorders of sexual development, also known as intersex conditions. The bill also would have banned medical insurance policies from insuring doctors against the damage caused by experimental gender-transitioning drugs and elective cosmetic surgeries.
Tracy Shannon, a Houston-area activist and blogger who was part of the lobbying efforts in support of the legislation, told The Christian Post on Friday that a seemingly impenetrable barrier exists between the elected officials and the general public, and that is their staffers.
The staffers, Shannon said, always gave them the same one-line answer: "The bill is going through the process and the representative supports the bill."
"We asked what the process was that the bill was going through while HB1399 languished in Calendars [Committee] which is headed by [Republican state Rep.] Dustin Burrows of Lubbock and has a majority of Republicans on the committee. When we inquired why not one member motioned to schedule the bill, we were verbally attacked, mocked and called liars," Shannon said.
"We spend a lot of time, money and energy lobbying our representatives [only] to be treated with disdain. It is shameful," she asserted, noting that Republican politicians in the House will now return to their districts and claim they co-authored, authored, or supported these gender modification bills that they did not push to get out of the House committee.
Texas-based political consultant Luke Macias tweeted Friday: "Republican legislators in the Texas House kill a bill that would ban sex-change surgeries on children. 93% of voters supported a ballot measure to ban it but evidently GOP leadership represent the other 7%."
CP called the House Calendars Committee earlier this month to ask if the bill would make it out of committee and was told the bill was "making the rounds" among its 11 members who decide which bills will go to the House floor for consideration.
The ongoing fight over transgender medicalization of children gained international attention in 2019 when the plight of then-7-year-old James Younger garnered international headlines.
Younger continues to be at the center of a bitter custody dispute between his parents. His mother, Dr. Anne Georgulas, a pediatrician, was intent on transitioning her son into a girl named Luna despite the objections of the boy's father, Jeffrey Younger, who has long referred to the medicalized gender transitioning of children as a form of "chemical castration."
In a January 2019 interview with Macias on his podcast, Jeffrey Younger described the psychological dynamics and how he has had to navigate the various hurdles in order to save his son from irreversible medical harm.
"You have to see your son sexually abused, and you have to maintain your calm,” he explained, "because the courts are not going to be fair to you. And the only way you can survive this and get your son through this alive is to calmly allow your son to be tortured right before your eyes and outlast the opposition. That’s what it’s like,” Younger recounted at the time.
Although bills banning the puberty blockers and genital mutilation of children have been put forward by Republican legislators at the state level, their efforts have faced intra-party opposition through various legislative processes and because of the influence of economically powerful entities.
A bill that would have banned the medicalized gender transitioning of minors in heavily Republican South Dakota died last year in a state Senate committee in part because of the influence of the Chamber of Commerce.
Earlier this year, Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchison, a Republican, vetoed a bill prohibiting the use of experimental drugs and genital mutilation of gender dysphoric minors, citing limiting government principles and interference between doctor-patient relationships. The overwhelmingly Republican Arkansas legislature ultimately overrode his veto.
Matt Rinaldi, a former Texas state representative, said the way in which the bill was handled in the Calendars Committee, which held the bill back for consideration on the last day, was intentional and an indication that Republicans didn't consider it a priority.
“When they schedule something on the last day, they’re setting it up for the Democrats to filibuster it. If they wanted it to pass, it would have already passed,” Rinaldi said in an interview with the National File.
“If you look at the calendars the last several sessions, and look on the last day, you’ll see a host of bills that are conservative firebrand bills that they knew they would never get to, and that’s all for them escaping accountability,” he explained.
“I think it’s absolutely disgusting that bills like banning the mutilation of children and sex-change surgeries are even being delayed," he added. "If we can’t, as a party, holding both Houses of the Legislature and the governor’s mansion, if we can’t pass that bill, what’s the case for voting for them at all, in any election? They’re absolutely terrible.”