Florida Strengthens Regulations Regarding Transgender Healthcare

Sep 19, 2023 at 01:30 pm by Matt

Transgender Healthcare

Florida strengthens regulations regarding transgender healthcare. Despite recent court judgments criticizing Florida's approach to regulating gender-affirming healthcare, transgender individuals in the state now face increased obstacles to accessing medical services.

In a recent development, Florida's medical and osteopathic medicine boards have introduced new regulations governing hormone replacement therapy and surgery for transgender adults. These guidelines are part of a mandatory informed consent process established by Senate Bill 254, which took effect in May.

Under the newly implemented rules, transgender adults must undergo psychological assessments every two years to continue their hormone treatments. Additionally, a witness's signature is now required, in addition to that of the patient and their physician.

Biennial Psychological Assessment For Transgender Healthcare

Moreover, separate sets of forms have been issued for transgender minors, obligating them to undergo suicide risk assessments every three months and receive ongoing counseling from mental health professionals throughout their treatment. These requirements are compounded by statewide bans that prevent new minor patients from initiating care, although those already receiving care before the bans were implemented are exempted.

Advocates argue that these requirements have significant implications, as they add further layers of complexity to accessing care, particularly for patients who have been receiving treatment for an extended period.

In addition to these challenges, adult patients are now mandated to have an in-person consultation with a physician to begin hormone therapy. This means that nurse practitioners and telehealth providers are no longer authorized to prescribe hormones. Furthermore, healthcare providers now have the option to refuse care to patients based on their religious, moral, or ethical beliefs, a provision that transgender individuals and their supporters believe may reduce the availability of gender-affirming care providers.

Newly Imposed Rules

These newly imposed rules for transgender healthcare by the state's medical boards are part of a broader trend of obstacles to healthcare access and public life for transgender individuals and the LGBTQ+ community, affecting not only Florida but also other parts of the country.

However, it's important to highlight that several of these policies, both in Florida and other states, have encountered legal challenges in federal courts. This has raised concerns about the motivations behind these regulations. Recently, U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle blocked Florida's ban on Medicaid coverage for gender-affirming care, asserting that the policy appeared to result from a biased effort rather than a fair analysis of evidence.

Subsequently, the state has appealed Judge Hinkle's ruling and another decision that prevented the enforcement of gender-affirming care restrictions for three of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit. Florida's leaders, including Governor Ron DeSantis and Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo, maintain that such care is experimental and ineffective.

The forms issued by the medical boards align with these claims, stating that transition-related medical care is grounded in limited and low-quality research. This stance contradicts the positions of major medical associations such as the American Medical Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics, which endorse gender-affirming care as evidence-based and, in certain instances, life-saving treatment.

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