Words By: Chelsea Stewart
Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida (PPSWCF) has recently expanded their services to include treatment for patients who are transitioning from one gender to another.
Eleven of the region’s healthcare centers will be the first statewide facilities to begin treating transgender patients. The locations include Orlando, Kissimmee, Tampa, Lakeland, Ft. Myers, St. Petersburg and five other locations.
Services will include hormone replacement therapy (HRT), screenings for sexually transmitted diseases and cancer, reproductive health care, and assessments for referrals for mental health counseling.
“I think for so long trans people have been marginalized and ignored so I think it’s a really amazing thing that a company is stepping out in such a big way. This is a really big thing and I think the stats will show that,” said Khari Daniels, a Tallahassee resident and transgendered woman.
The Planned Parenthood branch services more than 40,000 patients each year, though there is no current estimate of how many transgender patients they are expecting to see.
Patients who are interesting in transitioning must sit down for an appointment before receiving services. They must be over 18 years old or have written permission from a parent or guardian.
“For nearly 50 years, Floridians have relied on Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida for comprehensive reproductive health care and information,” CEO of PPSWCF, Barbara Zdravecky, said in a statement, “We are committed to providing high-quality, expert health care regardless of race, income, geography, citizenship status or gender identity and expression. These new services will strengthen our ability to provide the Florida communities we serve with the essential health care services they need to be healthy and strong,”
Planned Parenthood had to train 150 employees for the new rollout.
The treatment procedures will mainly include giving hormones to patients transitioning between genders. Females who are changing to males will be given doses of testosterone. Males transitioning to females will be given doses of estrogen in addition to medicine that blocks the testosterone their bodies produce.
The hormones can be administered through injections, topical creams or pellets placed under the skin.
“I think this is awesome. I feel like it’s a long time coming and it’s long overdue. People may feel like wanting to transition is a choice, but for some people it’s not. It’s who we are. I think just because people disagree with it you should still be afforded the opportunity to live comfortably. It’s awesome,” said Amiyah Johns, a popular Atlanta celebrity impersonator and transgendered woman.
According to research by the Kaiser Family Foundation, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals are often faced with issues when seeking support or medical services because they don’t feel comfortable in certain surroundings and the consequence can be inadequate outcomes.
A national survey conducted on transgender individuals found that 28 percent had been harassed in a medical setting and 2 percent were physically assaulted. 19 percent refused medical care and another 28 percent delayed seeking medical treatment when they were sick or injured in fear of discrimination.
The services begin in October. The other regional affiliate, which includes South, East and North Florida, will add the services at a later date.