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Florida transgender adults ‘blind’ to new law restricting health care access

The debate over new restrictions on gender-positive care in Florida focused primarily on transgender children. But a new law signed last month by Republican presidential candidate and governor Ron DeSantis has made it difficult, even impossible, for many transgender adults to get treatment.

Eli and Lucas, a trans male couple, followed the discussion at the forum. parliamentSo when Democrats warned that a ban on gender-affirming parenting for minors would make transgender children more likely to commit suicide, Republicans responded with a misguided story about mutilated children. Eli said she felt she and her partner were “blinded” when she learned the bill contained language that disrupted their lives.

“There was no communication.

Like many transgender adults, floridaHe and Lucas now face difficult choices, including whether to uproot their lives to continue receiving gender-confirming care. The clinic is also exploring how it will operate under regulations that have made Florida a test case for restrictions on adults.

Lucas, 26, was put off treatment after the Orlando clinic that prescribed hormone replacement therapy stopped offering gender-affirming treatment altogether. The couple are also concerned about staying in states that have enacted several other bills aimed at the LGBTQ+ community this year.

“Everything in my life is here. All my friends, my family. I just got promoted at work and probably won’t be able to keep it,” said Lucas, who works in the university’s financial aid office. said. “I’m going to lose everything except Eli and my pets. I’m moving out of here. So this was never an easy decision for me.”

of Associated Press does not use the Eli and Lucas surnames for fear of retaliation. Their friends and family know they are transgender, but most people who meet them do not.

A new law banning gender-affirming care for minors also requires adult patients seeking transgender medical care to sign informed consent forms. It also requires that transition-related health care be supervised by a physician and that people see that physician directly. These rules have proven particularly onerous as many people receive care from nurses and use telemedicine. The law also made it a crime to violate the new requirements.

Another new law that allows doctors and pharmacists to refuse treatment for transgender people further limits their options.

“For trans adults, this is devastating,” he said. Kate Steinle, Chief Clinical Officer at FOLX Health, which provides gender-positive care to trans adults through telemedicine. Her company opened an in-person clinic in Florida and received a license in Florida to continue providing treatment to already enrolled patients, even though it would be a big change for her model of business for the company. Decided to hire more doctors who received.

Eli has been seeing doctors for years, so he can still get treatment. But SPEKTRUM Health Inc., the Orlando clinic that prescribed Lucas’ hormone replacement therapy, has stopped offering gender-affirming care.

“There are a lot of people who are looking for care that we can no longer legally provide,” said Lana Dunn, Chief Operating Officer of SPEKTRUM Health.

Florida has the second-largest transgender adult population in the nation, with an estimated 94,900, according to the Williams Institute at the University of California, Los Angeles. State-level population-based surveys were used to determine estimates. Not all transgender people seek medical intervention.

At least 19 states now have laws restricting or banning gender-affirming medical care for transgender minors. However, restrictions on adults are not talked about in most places. The Missouri Attorney General tried to impose a rule in the state, but it was withdrawn.

Florida is “a testing ground for what they can do to escape,” Dunn said.

Her organization treats about 4,000 people, most of them in Florida, and some out-of-state telemedicine patients, she said. SPEKTRUM has stepped up mental health services since the passage of the law, but SPEKTRUM and other organizations rely heavily on nurses to provide care.

Dunn estimates that 80% of trans adults in the state used to receive care from nurses but have now lost access to it.

“What we are seeing in the community right now is just chaos,” Dunn said.

The law also includes language that could scare doctors willing to treat trans patients, including a 20-year statute of limitations for filing lawsuits over the treatment doctors provide. .

Dunn, herself a trans woman, is grappling with her own inability to take hormones while trying to provide support to terrified patients. She says it caused a “huge mental strain”.

“Not only am I facing a lack of care for myself, but many people in my community are facing the same thing, and they reach out to me for guidance,” Dan said. said. “So I try my best to guide and comfort people, but no one asks me, ‘How are you doing? OK? ‘”

Lucas, who converted eight years ago when he was 18, expects to end hormone treatment in June. In the best-case scenario he can foresee now, he will receive a new prescription in August. He is worried that he will start menstruating again.

“It’s going to be very difficult mentally to have your body change in a way that doesn’t align with your brain,” Lucas said.

Eli and Lucas have switched to a monthly lease and are tentatively planning to move to Minnesota in November. They said they would leave sooner if they had more money, and started an online fundraiser to help. Moving with a dog and two cats can be expensive and difficult to find a new place to live.

“We never thought it would happen to us this way, so quickly,” Eli said.

___

Beatty reported from New York City and Schoenbaum from Raleigh, North Carolina.

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/ap-florida-legislature-ron-desantis-associated-press-b2351235.html Florida transgender adults ‘blind’ to new law restricting health care access

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