Law banning gender-affirming care for minors affecting adults seeking the same care, doctors say

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Central Florida healthcare providers say the state’s new law banning gender-affirming care for minors has also had an impact on adults seeking the same kind of care.

The law, signed by the Governor Ron DeSantis Wednesday, prevents sex reassignment surgeries and use of puberty blocking medication for minors.

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However, another provision of the bill says only physicians are able to provide prescriptions and treatments like hormone therapy.

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LGBTQ advocates say that means the majority of the providers for such treatment can no longer do so, impacting more than 100,000 transgender adults in Florida.

Physicians at Spektrum Health in Orlando say they were forced to stop treatments because of the law, sending them scrambling for solutions.

Hormone therapy has stopped at Spektrum for now, but leaders there say they’re still working through the details of how to comply with the new law and continue serving their patients.

“When the bill was signed was a full stop for us,” Spektrum Health CEO Joey Knoll said.

From mental health to primary care, Spektrum has served Orlando’s LGBTQ community since 2018.

The bill says only a physician can provide or administer prescriptions for gender-affirming care, but advocates say 80-percent of those services are provided by nurse practitioners.

“The few MDs that there are in the community are already flooded with patients,” Spektrum Health Operations Manager Lana Dunn said. “They have more than they can handle.”

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Dunn says access will be a challenge since their clinic is run by nurses.

“The time will come when I run out,” Dunn said.

Spektrum Health and others are having to share doctors on a rotating basis to continue hormone therapy. It could leave adult patients without gender-affirming care.

The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Randy Fine (R-Palm Bay), says that wasn’t the law’s intent.

“No, the intent was not to prevent the treatment for adults, but it says these kinds of very severe side effect treatments should be done by a doctor,” Rep. Fine said.

Aside from requiring doctors, Rep. Fine claims the law protects minors by banning sex reassignment surgeries and puberty blockers.

“Childhood is a time where you should be able to experiment and discover yourself,” Rep. Fine said. “You shouldn’t make life-altering decisions that can’t be undone.”

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LGBTQ advocacy groups have filed legal motions for an injunction to temporarily stop the law. That legal work is still pending.

Meanwhile, Spektrum Health officials say they’re working to schedule an out-of-state doctor to see trans patients in Florida.

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