An anti-transgender Texas House candidate who lost custody of his trans child got heckled and shut down by students during an appearance at the University of North Texas Wednesday night.
Jeff Younger, a Republican who is running in House District 63, drew chants of "F*** these fascists" and "trans rights" from students at the Denton school, where he had been invited to speak by the university's Young Conservatives of Texas chapter. The reaction forced him to end his appearance after about 40 minutes, My San Antonio reports. The event was chronicled in a Twitter thread, now taken down, but some videos of the student reaction remain available.
"Younger, according to the tweets, only egged on the protesters by asking them to make more noise and proceeded to call the protesters 'Communists,'" the site reports. "Another tweet alleges that Younger said 'Trans people don't exist.'"
Younger entered the race for House District 63 last November after a long custody battle over his twin children, now 9. One is a boy, the other a trans girl. Anne Georgulas, Younger's ex-wife and the twins' mother, is a pediatrician who has supported the trans child in her transition.
In 2019, a jury in Dallas County awarded sole custody to Georgulas, but the judge in the case ignored that verdict and ruled for joint custody. Younger and Georgulas continued to fight over custody for two more years, and in 2021 another Dallas County judge awarded most parental rights to Georgulas, while allowing Younger supervised visits, according to Courthouse News Service. However, the judge also barred Georgulas from allowing the trans child to undergo "hormonal suppression therapy, puberty blocks, and/or transgender reassignment surgery" without Younger's consent. (Genital surgery, by the way, is not generally performed on minors.)
On his campaign website, Younger contends the child is not transgender but was misdiagnosed, and says a doctor planned to put the child on puberty blockers beginning at age 9. Noting that he's been able to stop this treatment, he writes, "But for how long? We need a law. This is child abuse, as every conservative knows. Even the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services considers medical transitioning of children is child abuse. But still the Legislature hasn't acted."
Texas lawmakers considered but failed to pass a bill to this effect last year. Then in February, Attorney General Ken Paxton issued a nonbinding legal opinion asserting that gender-affirming medical care for children constitutes child abuse, and Gov. Greg Abbott directed the DFPS to investigate parents who allow their children to receive such care.
A family being investigated under the policy filed suit Tuesday, represented by Lambda Legal and the American Civil Liberties Union. A Travis County judge Wednesday ruled that the investigation of the family must cease, and she scheduled a hearing for March 11 to consider blocking the policy more broadly.
Younger, on his campaign website, calls any affirmation of trans kids' identity an "experimental, damaging course of action." This, of course, goes against the opinions of most medical and mental health organizations, which note that both social and medical affirmation can save children's lives.
Younger advanced to a runoff in Tuesday's Republican primary for the House district, as no candidate received a majority of the vote. He and Ben Bumgarner will compete in the runoff in May. The incumbent, Republican Tan Parker, gave up his seat to run for state Senate.
In other fallout from Younger's appearance at the university, the school is investigating a report that a woman was hit by a campus police vehicle after the event, My San Antonio reports. Kelly Neidert, president of the Young Conservatives chapter, tweeted that she was escorted from the building by university police, while another Twitter user said the police vehicle in which Neidert was riding drove toward a group of protesters.