The Phoenix Flyer

Advocates, doctor slam FL health agency’s new guidance on treatment for transgender youth

By: - April 22, 2022 12:19 pm

March for Our Lives demonstrators in 2018 hold signs saying “Trans Bathrooms Never Killed Anyone” sign. Credit: Ted Eytan

Advocates for transgender kids warn that new guidance from Florida’s state health department discouraging hormonal treatment and other therapies could put “youth in harm’s way.”

The Florida Department of Health released guidance this week on the treatment of what’s called gender dysphoria for children and adolescents, stating that kids “should not be prescribed puberty blockers or hormone therapy,” among other guidelines.

But a doctor from Planned Parenthood in Florida was critical of the state’s new guidance that discourages gender affirming medical care for transgender youth.

During a virtual press conference Thursday, Dr. Sujatha Prabhakaran of Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida, said that “politicians really have no place in interfering with patients.”

She was joined by mothers in Florida, former teachers and social workers who slammed the state for putting out the memo that they say could be harmful to transgender youth and criticized the data the state used to support its stance against gender affirming care for transgender kids.

“I know that this guidance puts youth in harm’s way,” Prabhakaran said, adding that Planned Parenthood will continue to provide hormone therapy and other services to transgender youth, despite the state’s new guidance.

In the state’s memo, the agency also said, “social gender transition should not be a treatment option” for kids, adding that kids struggling with gender identity should be offered counseling and “social support by peers and family.”

“Our guidance speaks for itself. It follows the most comprehensive and up-to-date data available,” Jeremy Redfern, press secretary for the state’s health department, said in an email to the Florida Phoenix. “Anyone is free to debate our guidance on the merits of the supporting data,” he said.

Florida Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo pushed back against the federal Department of Health and Human Services, which recently affirmed its “commitment to supporting and protecting transgender youth.”

Ladapo said in a written statement:

“The federal government’s medical establishment releasing guidance failing at the most basic level of academic rigor shows that this was never about health care. … Children experiencing gender dysphoria should be supported by family and seek counseling, not pushed into an irreversible decision before they reach 18.”

Emily Gray, transgender outreach specialist for the LGBTQ Center of Bay County, said that offering treatment options for transgender youth could help reduce suicidality and that those kids are not offered any surgeries “like they want you to believe.”

Gray argued during the press conference that the state has” ignored all of the actual science” and the studies they use are flawed.

“It can be proven. This was a political attack against transgender youth in order to get votes for this administration [DeSantis administration]. It’s sickening,” Gray said.

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Issac Morgan
Issac Morgan

Issac Morgan is a 2009 graduate of Florida A&M University's School of Journalism, and a proud native of Tallahassee. He has covered city council and community events at the Gadsden County Times, worked as a sports news assistant at the Tallahassee Democrat, a communications specialist for the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, and as a proofreader at the Florida Law Weekly.