Health centers suspend gender-affirming care due to restrictions.

For assistance with transgender-related issues, the National Transgender Lifeline can be reached at 1-877-565-8860. Recently, Florida authorities have been restricting transgender rights, including passing a law stating that only doctors can prescribe hormone therapy (HRT), creating challenges for transgender patients and healthcare professionals. This law also makes it a crime to provide gender-affirming care to most young people. Because of these restrictions, some health centers across the state have suspended the provision of gender-affirming hormones and surgeries.

Noah Lovell, a Lakeland resident, has been on HRT through family planning for about a year. Lovell believes HRT is important to help their body adjust and has been a form of resistance against the restrictions on transgender rights. Lovell worries about the consequences of being off their medications, saying, “I know my mental health is so much better on HRT and testosterone, so the fear of what it would be like to be off my meds raises my head.”

The law has created difficulties for thousands of patients and healthcare professionals who treat them. Some clinics that provide LGBTQ care are staffed by more nurses than doctors, so they are especially affected. This means that patients seeking gender-positive treatment may experience limited appointment slots, and appointments may only be available based on the schedules of doctors, which can be a big barrier for patients.

Southwest and Central Florida Family Planning spokesperson Miranda Colavito says, “The Act imposes medically unnecessary and intentionally targeted restrictions on how gender-positive care is provided and is intended to severely restrict access to care.” The law also requires patients to sign consent forms that indicate they are aware of the risks associated with sex, but the state medical board has yet to draft a form, leading to care being stalled. Once a state-approved form is available, patients will need to sign it in front of their doctor, which can be difficult.

Despite these challenges, healthcare professionals are determined to resume treatment. Some patients have found doctors in their communities who would take over their care, while others worry about what it might mean to seek care elsewhere. In response to the law, some family planning centers continue to offer other forms of healthcare to transgender and nonbinary patients as their staff prepares to resume hormone therapy.

For those seeking help, the Florida Centers for Planned Parenthood website has more information on the availability of hormone therapy. Both Southwest and Central Florida (941-567-3800) and South, East, North Florida (561-472-9991) provide support, while the National Transgender Lifeline (staffed with transgender people) can be reached at 1-877-565-8860. Equality Florida’s Transgender Resource Guide provides a statewide directory of quality, transgender-friendly service providers throughout Florida. Additionally, the Trevor Project runs a 24-hour lifeline at 866-488-7386.

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