FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — Planned Parenthood is now offering hormone therapy and other services for transgender patients in Florida, starting with two health centers in Miami this week. It plans to expand statewide within the year.
The services could help a patient who, for example, was born as a female and still has female organs but identifies as male. Oral, topical and injectable hormones would address issues like facial hair, redistribution of fat and muscle and thicker vocal chords. The prescriptions are written after extensive medical and blood tests and are only available for patients 18 and older.
The cost varies based on insurance and ranges from roughly $250 to $350 if paying out of pocket.
Planned Parenthood is also training staff on how to better serve the transgender population, including helping them manage routine reproductive check-ups and screenings that may be emotionally uncomfortable. That could include cancer screenings and annual gynecological exams for a patient born as a female who identifies as male who may have trouble finding a provider or have lost health care because of discrimination.
“We were hearing from our allies and witnessing the kind of barriers that transgender people experience trying to secure healthcare and that is from just walking into a health facility and being treated with judgment and discrimination,” said Lillian Tamayo, president of Planned Parenthood Florida.
The organization started offering appointments at two locations in Miami on Monday and plans to provide services to 11 counties where they currently provide health care within the year from the Florida Keys up to Jacksonville and over to Tallahassee.
They join about 200 Planned Parenthood affiliates already providing hormone therapy in several other states including California, New York and Virginia. That’s a 150 percent increase from 2016. Almost half of all the Planned Parenthood affiliated nationwide now provide hormone therapy to transgender patients, said Tamayo.
She noted that Planned Parenthood’s services are not just for women and that the organization has offered services for men for years, including testing and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases, working with couples and providing birth control for family planning, HIV testing and referrals and abortion counseling and procedures.
Conservatives were quick to criticize the organization, saying the services are a waste of taxpayer funds and are harmful to transgender patients.
“Like abortion, these services are not health care. I believe that they’re abusive to the person taking them and create more problems than they solve,” said John Stemberger, president of Florida Family Policy Council.
“Gender dysmorphia is a legitimate mental disorder … these people need help and counseling,” he said. “The fact that so many are plunged into suicide and depression has nothing to do with external forces and has more to do with they’re not aligning themselves with reality.”
Planned Parenthood has faced numerous attacks from conservative lawmakers in recent years and attempts to withdraw state and federal funding, but Tamayo said that will not change their mission.
“People deserve access to high quality, compassionate health care. Your health care decisions should be between you and your doctor and not with a politician,” she said. “Our view is to lead with those values.”