Transgender adults in Florida `blindsided’ that new law also limits their access to health care
Image via AP.

1000 AP transcare
“I just never thought it could happen this way, this fast and to us."

Debate surrounding Florida’s new restrictions on gender-affirming care focused largely on transgender children. But a new law that Republican presidential candidate and Gov. Ron DeSantis signed last month also made it difficult —even impossible — for many transgender adults to get treatment.

Eli and Lucas, trans men who are a couple, followed the discussions in the Legislature, where Democrats warned that trans children would be more prone to suicide under a ban on gender-affirming care for minors and Republicans responded with misplaced tales of mutilated kids. Eli said he and his partner felt “blindsided” when they discovered the bill contained language that would also disrupt their lives.

“There was no communication. … Nobody was really talking about it in our circles,” said Eli, 29.

Like many transgender adults in Florida, he and Lucas are now facing tough choices, including whether to uproot their lives so that they can continue to access gender-confirming care. Clinics are also trying to figure out how to operate under regulations that have made Florida a test case for restrictions on adults.

Lucas, 26, lost his access to treatment when the Orlando clinic that prescribed him hormone replacement therapy stopped providing gender-affirming care altogether. The couple also worries about staying in a state that this year enacted several other bills targeting the LGBTQ+ community.

“My entire life is here. All my friends, my family. I just got a promotion at my job, which I’m probably not to be able to keep,” Lucas, who works in a financial aid office at a college, said. “I’m losing everything except Eli and my pets moving out of here. So this was not a decision that I took lightly at all.”

The Associated Press is not using Eli’s and Lucas’ last names because they fear reprisal. While their friends and families know they are trans, most people who meet them do not.

The new law that bans gender-affirming care for minors also mandates that adult patients seeking trans health care sign an informed consent form. It also requires a physician to oversee any health care related to transitioning, and for people to see that doctor in person. Those rules have proven particularly onerous because many people received care from nurse practitioners and used telehealth. The law also made it a crime to violate the new requirements.

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

“For trans adults, it’s devastating,” said Kate Steinle, chief clinical officer at FOLX Health, which provides gender-affirming care to trans adults through telemedicine. Her company decided to open in-person clinics and hire more physicians licensed in Florida in order to continue to provide care to patients who have already enrolled, even though that represents a major change to the company’s business model.

Eli has been seeing a physician for years and therefore still has access to care. But SPEKTRUM Health Inc., the Orlando clinic that prescribed Lucas hormone replacement therapy, has stopped providing gender-affirming care.

“There are a lot of people looking for care that we’re no longer legally able to provide,” said Lana Dunn, SPEKTRUM Health’s chief operating officer.

Florida has the second-largest population of transgender adults in the U.S., at an estimated 94,900 people, according to the Williams Institute at the University of California, Los Angeles School of Law. It used state-level, population-based surveys to determine its estimates. Not all transgender people seek medical interventions.

At least 19 states have now enacted laws restricting or banning gender-affirming medical care for transgender minors. But restrictions on adults haven’t been part of the conversation in most places. Missouri’s attorney general tried to impose a rule in that state, but it was pulled back.

Florida is “the proving ground of what they can get away with,” Dunn said.

Her organization treats about 4,000 people — most in Florida and some out-of-state telehealth patients, she said. While SPEKTRUM has bolstered its mental health services since the law passed, it and other organizations heavily rely on nurse practitioners to provide care.

Dunn estimates that 80% of trans adults in the state were getting their health care from a nurse practitioner and now have lost access.

“Right now what we’re seeing in the community is just chaos,” Dunn said.

The law also contains language that she said could scare off doctors who would be otherwise willing to treat trans patients, such as a 20-year statute of limitations to sue over care they provide.

As a trans woman herself, Dunn is grappling with losing her own access to hormones while trying to provide support to terrified patients. That’s taken “a significant emotional toll,” she said.

“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?’”

Lucas, who transitioned eight years ago when he was 18, anticipates running out of hormone treatments in June. In the best case scenario he can foresee now, he will be able to get a new prescription in August. He fears he might start to get his period again.

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

Eli and Lucas have switched to a month-to-month lease and tentatively plan to relocate to Minnesota in November. They said they would leave sooner if they can afford it and started an online fundraiser to help. Moving with their dog and two cats increases the expense and difficulty of finding a new place.

“I just never thought it could happen this way, this fast and to us,” Eli said.

Associated Press


  • furdodulmu

    June 4, 2023 at 1:07 pm

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  • Michael K

    June 4, 2023 at 1:22 pm

    Republicans are enacting these laws is in order to demonstrate their cruelty and inhumanity to a core base that eats it up – the more hateful the better. The “southern strategy” requires an “other” to persecute, punish and discriminate against, so Republicans feel empowered and can distract from the real issues.

    Corrupt and cowardly Republicans are beholden to Uber-wealthy donors and legislate against the best interests of ordinary Floridians. No one has been able to explain how life is better for hating LGBTQ people and inflicting real harm to people, their families and friends targeted by these laws.

  • John Lentini

    June 4, 2023 at 1:29 pm

    Republicans enjoy stories like this. Cruelty turns them on.

    • Dont Say FLA

      June 5, 2023 at 5:41 pm

      Republicans used to do this exact same thing to the blacks, but they finally realized they need the black vote. Now Republicans found a much smaller crowd to be their source of all that’s evil: trans drag queens. That’s a vote-safe group to point fingers at and to blame for everything bad that ever happened. Yay for the GOP for finding their new bogeyman to leverage for selling fear. Boo for the GOP voters for falling for it. Again. GOP voters fall for it Every. Single. Time.

  • Richard Bruce

    June 4, 2023 at 1:58 pm

    There is nothing physically wrong with people who suffer from gender dysphoria. It’s a mental illness. A doctor should have the right to refuse to give medicine to alter one’s biology for no physical reason. Any doctor has the right to refuse to give me insulin when there is no need. No amount of medicine or physical mutilation can change one’s gender.

    • Elliott Offen

      June 4, 2023 at 2:52 pm

      👆 Report to Florida Politics for false information and hate speech.

    • Earl Pitts American

      June 4, 2023 at 3:03 pm

      This new law will actually save our Florida Doctors from going to HeII for child abuse and mutulation.
      And same for abuse and mutilation of these mentally disphoric adults.
      Both of those high crimes against the natural order of things make St. Peter push the button to open the trap door straight to HEII when a sinner trys to pass thru The Pearly Gates.
      Plus it stops future regret lawsuits.
      Thank you America,
      This common sense law is a win win for all Florida’s beloved physicians.

    • Outlaw circumcision

      June 5, 2023 at 5:43 pm

      Yeah, gender mutilation is of the devil. Outlaw circumcision and open the door to the gas chamber for all circumcised males. We must rid this country of these mutilated freaks that are dangers to children. Need proof? Prisons are full of circumcised males that got locked up for sex crimes against children. We must gas all circumcised males until dead. Immediately. For the children.

  • Ed Dot Com 👍

    June 4, 2023 at 2:57 pm

    The left instituted the woke to gain followers while simultaneously benefiting from the reactionary movement against it. Republicans have miscalculated.. now gonna be hard to win a presidency for a long time. DeSantis fell for it. DeSantis and Trump feeding into the left wing fire and next gonna be the DeSantis flop on top of the Trump train wreck AkA Trump train to hell. Ask Ashli Babbitt about the Trump train to hell.🔥

    • Anti-Woke is a Snipe Hunt

      June 6, 2023 at 9:53 am

      Anti-Woke is a Snipe Hunt. And Rhonda fell for it. But it’s not the Democrats that sent him on the Snipe Hunt. It’s Casey.
      Ms Casey obviously wants to be Mrs Elon Musk, and sinking Rhonda’s ship is her plan for how to get there without looking like a blatant ladder climber when she’s just abandoning the sinking ship named Rhonda Santis.
      Casey is the DeSantis campaign leaker, if you ask me. “It’s Casey,” is what I would answer.
      She wants to be Mrs Elon Musk. Mrs Musk has a very, very nice ring to it. She wants a ring on her finger that cost more than Rhonda’s entire n3t worth, and she’ll do anything to get that ring, is what people are saying.

Comments are closed.


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