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An Orlando clinic resumes gender-affirming therapy after judge overturns law

LGBTQ health illustration

After a federal judge ruled Florida's restrictions on treatment for people with gender dysphoria was unconstitutional, 26Health clinic resumed booking appointments.

Orlando-based health clinic 26Health said late last week it was returning to hormone therapy following the decision of a federal judge deeming Florida’s anti-transgender therapies laws as unconstitutional.

Just before the office closed June 14, a former patient called hoping to start appointments as soon as possible. About five days later, the office had scheduled about a dozen appointments, said Latoya Crittenden, the clinic practice director of 26Health.

“We received phone calls; many established patients are looking to come back to receive that service. We do have a few new patients, you know, locally who are looking to come to us to receive their hormone replacement therapy,” she said.

It comes after a federal judge on June 11 overturned the state’s restrictions on hormone therapy and puberty blockers..

Last year, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill into law restricting hormone therapy, outlawing gender-affirming care for minors and restricting how adults receive it.

Under the 2023 rules, nursing practitioners were no longer allowed to administer hormone replacement therapy,or HRT. Clinical nursing practitioners were the most common and accessible outlet for HRT for transgender patients, but under the law, only a physician can provide it after a patient provides a state-approved informed consent document.

Prior to Gov. Ron DeSantis signing last year’s law, the clinic used to see about 40 to 50 patients a week for hormone therapy, Crittenden said.

“We have a lot of patients, even some of the patients I spoke with, who have not received any care since they've been with us. So they are happy and willing to come back to us. I feel like it's going to be huge as time continues,” she said.

Crittenden said she expects the summer appointments to fill up fast.

“I am expecting that (appointments) may come back immediately because I'm not sure if any other health care clinics have opened their doors to providing that service yet,”

Last year, Spektrum Health, a Central Florida clinic that provided HRT, sent an email to clients informing them they would no longer provide the service due to the law. Spektrum did not respond to Central Florida Public Media’s request on whether it would be resuming services.

A page on its website states:

“Spektrum Health, a Florida-based company is currently restricted by newly enacted STATE LAWS pertaining to Gender Affirming Care. We are working hard to combat these discriminatory, and politically motivated attacks by certain lawmakers, and hope to have full services restored ASAP!”

U.S. Judge Robert Hinkle said the law was unconstitutionally discriminatory and motivated by “animus” toward transgender people. In his decision, Hinkle prohibited state health officials from enforcing the law.

The state has appealed the ruling.

Copyright 2024 Central Florida Public Media

Joe Mario Pedersen