State HouseState SenateFocus Turns to Texas House Leadership on Legislation to Ban Child Gender Modification

One member of the Texas House says he doesn't know where key leaders will stand on the issue this session.
January 27, 2023
Legislation to prohibit medically modifying the gender of children is quickly becoming one of the most visible social issues for the Texas Legislature to tackle this session. 

With bills filed in both chambers seeking to address the issue with a variety of approaches, all eyes are turning towards key leaders in the House of Representatives for signals on what fate the issue faces in that chamber. 

The Texas Senate is expected to readily pass legislation, with Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick recently highlighting legislation that passed the upper chamber last session and members like Sen. Charles Perry (R-Lubbock) saying he is “confident” in legislation passing this session as well. 

During the 87th session, Senate Bill (SB) 1646 by Perry was one of two bills on the issue that cleared the Senate but died in the House.

Fast forward, senators like Perry who carried the previous bill have pointed toward legislation carried by Sen. Bob Hall (R-Edgewood), namely SB 249, as examples of bills expected to be passed. 

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One House member who has been a vocal opponent of child gender modification says he is still unsure where the leadership of their chamber stands on the issue. 

During a panel discussion at The Texan’s 88th Session Kickoff, State Rep. Bryan Slaton (R-Royse City) said that he has talked to many members of his caucus and none of them have expressed opposition to passing a bill on the issue. 

“I’ve not had one GOP House member tell me they do not support this,” Slaton said, adding that while he believes there is sufficient support among the members, he simply doesn’t know where the key leaders are yet. 

“We will pass a bill if Speaker Phelan wants to, if Chairman Burrows wants to, and if Chairman Klick wants to,” Slaton explained. 

While House Speaker Dade Phelan (R-Beaumont) hasn’t fully committed to supporting a policy, he has pointed reporters to his appointment of a select committee on youth health and safety that studied the issue during the interim and indicated that the committee’s findings will lead the House’s response. 

One of the interim committee members, Rep. Stephanie Klick (R-Fort Worth), chairs the House Public Health Committee where legislation relating to the issue was referred last session. 

The Texan reached out to Phelan, Klick, and Rep. Dustin Burrows (R-Lubbock) for comment, but received no response by the time of publication. 

Legislation such as Hall’s SB 249 prohibits certain surgical operations on minors that are not “medically necessary for the person’s health,” while others, including HB 46 by Slaton, add performing gender-altering surgeries and the prescription of puberty-blocking medications to the state law definition of child abuse. 

Opponents of the legislation, who include a variety of medical industry associations, deem the practices “gender-affirming care” and say these options are part of the most appropriate forms of treatment for transgender children. 

While some of the treatment options, like surgery, are considered rare, lawmakers like Slaton say it is unknown how rare or common the practices are. 

A Texas custody battle that gained nationwide attention in which the parents disagreed about their son’s gender identity has helped bring broader attention to the issue and prompted some of the first bills filed last session.


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Matt Stringer

Matt Stringer is a reporter for The Texan who writes about all things government, politics, and public policy. He graduated from Odessa College with an Associate Degree in Paralegal Studies and a Bachelor’s Degree in Management and Leadership. In his free time, you will find him in the great outdoors, usually in the Davis Mountains and Big Bend region of Southwest Texas.

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