“Governor Abbott has the sole authority to add a gender modification ban to a special session and he needs to do so. Every day we wait more Texas children are irreversibly harmed,” Texas GOP Chairman Matt Rinaldi stated in a press release.
“Rep. Matt Krause has a bill with enough co-authors to pass the Texas House and others are sure to attract majority support on this important issue. I ask Governor Abbott to add it to the call for the second special session.”
Krause filed a bill in the first special session, which just ended, with support from the majority of the Texas House.
Rinaldi’s statement marks the latest leg in Abbott’s race to keep up with the party.
During the regular session, Republican lawmakers filed several bills to ban puberty blockers and sex-altering surgeries for children. Some would have enforced the ban by punishing doctors with potential fines or license suspension. Others would have officially classified the procedures as child abuse, enabling state authorities to intervene in families that allowed their children to undergo them.
All but one of these proposals died in the House Public Health Committee, chaired by state Rep. Stephanie Klick (R-Fort Worth).
Poor calendar placement killed the remaining bill. Rep. Dustin Burrows (R-Lubbock) set the bill too low on the Texas House agenda to receive a vote before a midnight deadline, a move that Texas Monthly later praised as intentional.
All the while, Abbott remained quiet on the issue, neither opposing nor supporting these proposals publicly.
He first made public mention of the issue on a radio show late last month, saying “everybody knows” that the chance of a ban on child gender reassignment was “nil.” On this show, he then said he would address the issue through the power of his own office.
On Friday, Abbott asked the Texas Department of Family Protective Services (DFPS) in a letter if sex-altering surgeries constitute child abuse.
Rinaldi called the letter ineffective and referenced the custody case of James Younger, a young Texas child whose mother has fought for years in court with his father for custody rights to raise James as a girl.
“There is no need to wait around for DFPS to tell us whether sex change surgery on children is child abuse. It is. More importantly, the DFPS letter doesn’t change James Younger’s situation or that of the hundreds of children similarly situated, since it does not address the issue of using puberty blockers or hormone treatments on children for the purpose of gender transition,” Rinaldi said.
The Younger case settled into an uneasy balance for a time with joint conservatorship between James’ parents.
Child gender reassignment is perhaps the most relevant rift between Abbott and his party, but it is not the first. His coronavirus response exposed GOP fissures well before the regular legislative session began.
Don Huffines, one of Abbott’s primary election challengers, credited himself for nudging Abbott to the right. He has accused Abbott in press releases of stealing his campaign ideas, such as using state funding for a border wall.
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