State medical board ignores trans calls, bows to DeSantis push for treatment guidelines

Wendy Peale showed up at Dania Beach on Friday to give the Florida Board of Medicine a piece of her mind, on behalf of her non-binary child, Ren.

She was not alone. Many parents have come forward to support their transgender and non-binary children.

There were dozens of trans and gender nonconforming youth. A transgender military veteran. Teachers, leaders, community organizers, politicians.

Despite all of this, the board sided with the Florida Department of Health at the request of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis to begin the process of developing standards of care for transgender people. and non-gender compliant – a decision that many fear will make care even more difficult to access. .

It’s unclear how long this process would take, but protesters have made it clear they don’t have high hopes that the board will be able to shake off their own biases, even if they seek more. information about the positive outcomes associated with gender-affirming health. care.

“They tell us that they realize we need care, but they need to be stricter,” said Misty Eyez, director of transgender services at SunServe, a Broward County LGBTQ+ nonprofit where she serves 600 customers.

“That’s what’s really, really disheartening,” she said.

die in

Before the meeting began, trans and non-conforming community members and supporters protested just outside. They staged a “die-in,” draping the pastel pink, baby blue and white trans pride flag over their bodies.

Florida Board of Medicine, August 5, 2022. Credit: Brooke Baitinger.

They lay under makeshift headstones that listed their causes of death as various risk factors for trans experience, such as being removed from family, being outed, suffering from depression and substance abuse. Several tombstones indicate “care refused”.

Inside, they told their stories to board members and told them, unequivocally, how receiving gender-affirming healthcare had saved their lives.

They urged them not to act on a health department petition they deemed politically motivated, anti-LGBTQ+ and, ultimately, transphobic. The ministry had asked the council to set rules that would restrict children’s and adults’ access to gender-affirming healthcare, such as puberty-blocking drugs, hormone replacement therapy and transition-related surgery.

Shirley Roseman, a licensed clinical social worker in Broward County, said the board of medicine has already denied care to new patients.

She said she’s seen therapists in some areas err on the side of caution, completely canceling services for trans youth. For the first time since she started seeing trans patients, the board recently returned letters requesting medical transition surgeries for patients over 18, she said.

“That’s even before everything changed,” she said. “It affects both young people and adults.

Many at the meeting were upset that the board cut public comments by one hour.

As the council moved to vote, a trans woman came to speak and the panel cut her microphone. Security came to escort her and she told them not to touch her, telling them she was trans, a mother and a provider and asked how dare they do that.

“I am a mom. I am a parent. I am a supplier. You don’t do that to kids,” the trans woman said.

Board member Patrick Hunter described policies in Sweden and other countries that do not allow gender-affirming care before the age of 18.

Hunter freely and regularly shares misinformation about “detransition” on his Twitter account from fringe anti-trans groups like Genspect, which claims the detransition of many more people than is factual.

Several people from a group calling themselves Let Kids Be Kids have spoken out against gender-affirming care. Also present were five members of Moms for Liberty, who said they traveled two hours to attend the meeting.

What’s at stake

Following the decision, Eyez explained the stakes.

“It’s extremely vast, the success rate of someone who was forced through puberty and someone who was able to delay or suspend puberty,” she said, sharing the effects of the male puberty on his own body.

“I’m 6’1”. My feet are size 13 in women’s shoes. My voice makes me identify as transgender all the time.

Eyez described the positive results she has seen in her work, explaining how her clients who were able to use puberty-blocking drugs have successfully assimilated into society, passing as someone who is cisgender. They were all able to get jobs, she said.

“But my clients who had to go through male puberty can’t find jobs anymore because people aren’t comfortable with them,” she said. “This advice forcing people to go through male puberty is very discouraging.”

Eyez added that even if the council ultimately chooses not to limit access to puberty blockers, any delay in developing new standards of care will hurt children who need these drugs.

These are kids who are already fighting to be taken seriously amid a shortage of gender-affirming doctors in the state, and who are likely struggling to navigate and afford the repeat doctor visits needed to even ask. puberty blockers or hormone replacement therapy, she said.

“I’ve spent hundreds of thousands of dollars waxing my hair. I can’t change my voice – unless I fly to Korea and have $11,000 surgery. I’ll always be 6’1” “, she said.

“I’m not saying modify someone’s body when they were a child. I say pause. Don’t take that beard. Don’t get this male pattern baldness. Don’t understand that voice. Do not take this height.

What’s also discouraging, Eyez said, is not even that the board cut public comments short, but that its members were more willing to listen to guidance from other countries than anecdotal evidence from trans people. and non-binary in the very state in which they practice.

About John Tuttle

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