PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — Some transgender adults may have difficulty receiving sex-reassignment treatment, according to Planned Parenthood and a South Florida patient that WPTV spoke to.
Senate Bill 254 took effect in May and criminalized gender-affirming care, like puberty blockers, for minors. It also makes it more difficult for transgender adults to receive care.
A U.S. district court judge agreed Tuesday with plaintiffs in a lawsuit that gender-affirming care is medically necessary, yet the injunction doesn't address the restrictions the bill imposes on adults.
"Which is very unfortunate, because they are adults, they can consent on their own, and it's not allowing patients to be seen by nurse practitioners," Samantha Cahen, a program director for trans and nonbinary care with Planned Parenthood's Southeast and North Florida regions, said.
Currently, the bill requires any transgender adult to obtain "informed voluntary consent" in writing in order to get any sex-reassignment prescriptions or procedures.
Yet, informed consent means the prescribing or administering physician has to be physically present in the same room as the patient, eliminating the ability for many patients to receive telehealth services.
"Eighty percent or 90% of our patients were being seen via telehealth because they're in these rural cities that are probably an hour, three hours away from an actual health center," Cahen said. "So now, it's definitely limiting their care. It's making it harder for them to get the transition that they need and that they deserve."
Cahen also said with limited staff, even if the patients can get to a facility, seeing a doctor isn't easy.
"Instead of 18 nurse practitioners that we had across the state, we're down to about six or seven physicians," Cahen said.
One of those affected is Jameson O'Hanolan. Born female, O'Hanolan has been going to Planned Parenthood for gender-affirming hormone therapy ever since he moved to South Florida.
"I always knew who I was," O'Hanolan said. "From the time I could think thoughts, I knew who I was."
Now, he said the future of his care is uncertain.
"I really don't know what’s going to happen," O'Hanolan said. "I guess we gotta fight this fight all over again."
Currently, transgender people make up about 0.55% of Florida's population, meaning the law affects close to 900,000 people — 886,000 to be exact.
Yet, not everybody is against the law. WPTV talked to Jim Thoma, a retired teacher who said he believes it's not a bad thing for adults to receive more information before taking that step.
"I'm for the law, I believe in the science that you're either a male or female, especially for the minors," Thoma said.
However, O'Hanolan said he staunchly disagrees and plans to fight against the bill, hoping others will, too.
"This isn't over. This isn't just going to pass," O'Hanolan said. "There's a lot to come."
While the injunction doesn't address adult restrictions, lawyers for the plaintiffs are planning to ask the court to block them, which could add an adult transgender Floridian as a plaintiff in this suit.