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Trans Adults in Florida Forced to Seek Care Elsewhere Due to Restrictions

Trans Adults in Florida Forced to Seek Care Elsewhere Due to Restrictions

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Florida’s government claimed it was about protecting children, but access to care is being taken from adults as well, leaving many looking to flee to blue states.

Much of the debate around Florida’s new restrictions on gender-affirming care was centered around transgender children. But many transgender adults also cannot seek treatment under a new law that Republican presidential candidate Gov. Ron DeSantis signed last month.

As trans men in a relationship, Eli and Lucas followed the discussion in the legislature when Democrats warned that trans children would commit suicide if gender-affirming care were forbidden, and Republicans reacted by claiming minors had been mutilated, the Associated Press reports.

Upon finding out the bill’s provisions would also throw their lives into turmoil, Eli and his partner were “blindsided,” Eli, 29, told the news wire.

The couple must decide whether to move to a different state for essential medical care, as is the case for many transgender people in Florida. Additionally, clinics in the state are struggling with how to operate with restrictions on adults imposed by the regulation.

The Orlando clinic that prescribed Lucas hormone replacement therapy no longer offers gender-affirming care, leaving him without access to treatment. The couple is also concerned about living in a state that has passed several other discriminatory laws against LGBTQ+ people.

A new law bans gender-affirming health care for minors and requires informed consent from transgender adults seeking gender-affirming health care. Those who are transitioning must also see a doctor in person to oversee their health care. Because many people receive healthcare from nurse practitioners and use telehealth, these rules have proven particularly burdensome. As part of the new law, violating the provisions became a crime.

Transgender people are further limited by a new law that allows doctors and pharmacists to refuse to treat them.

Kate Steinle, chief clinical officer at FOLX Health, which provides gender-affirming telemedicine to trans adults, told the AP, “For trans adults, it’s devastating.”

To continue to provide care to patients who have already enrolled in the company, FOLX has opened in-person clinics and hired more physicians in Florida.

“There are a lot of people looking for care that we’re no longer legally able to provide,” Lana Dunn, SPEKTRUM Health’s chief operating officer and who is trans, said. SPEKTRUM is the clinic that Lucas went to for his gender-affirming care. Dunn told the AP that 80 percent of trans adults in Florida who were receiving care from a nurse practitioner don't have access to that care anymore.

“Not only am I faced with this lack of care for myself but a lot of people within the community are also facing the same thing, and they’re reaching out to me for guidance,” Dunn said. “So I’m doing my best to help guide people and console them, but nobody’s really reaching out to me saying, ’How are you doing? Are you OK?’”

The Williams Institute at UCLA Law School reports that Florida has 94,900 transgender adults, the second largest concentration in a state in the country.

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