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Orlando clinic resumes hormone therapy after anti-gender affirming care law deemed unconstitutional

Planned Parenthood is dropping its lawsuit against the state, but state regulators say the investigation is ongoing.
Planned Parenthood is dropping its lawsuit against the state, but state regulators say the investigation is ongoing.

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 Friday, 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 last week 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 children, 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 to the transgender community. With the 2023 law, only a physician can provide HRT 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 its clients informing them they would no longer provide the service due to the 2023 law. Spektrum did not respond to Central Florida Public Media’s request to whether or not 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!”

Last week, a district Court judge for the Northern District of Florida, Robert Hinkle, overturned the 2023 rule as a result of transgender Floridians and their families bringing a case against the state of Florida. The state this week filed an appeal.

HRT and puberty blockers have been used to treat gender dysphoria — which is the marked incongruence between a person's experienced or expressed gender and the one they were assigned at birth, according to the National Library of Medicine.

The treatments have been long supported by the American Academy of Pediatrics; the Endocrine Society, and the World Professional Association for Transgender Health.

Originally from South Florida, Joe Mario came to Orlando to attend the University of Central Florida where he graduated with degrees in Radio & Television Production, Film, and Psychology. He worked several beats and covered multimedia at The Villages Daily Sun but returned to the City Beautiful as a reporter for the Orlando Sentinel where he covered crime, hurricanes, and viral news. Joe Mario has too many interests and not enough time but tries to focus on his love for strange stories in comic books and horror movies. When he's not writing he loves to run in his spare time.
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