State guidelines released this week regarding treatment options for transgender youth could seriously harm children in Florida, medical professionals say.
Florida Department of Health guidelines say people under the age of 18 “should not be prescribed puberty blockers or hormone therapy” or undergo sex reassignment surgery. He also warned against social gender transition as a treatment for children and adolescents.
But therapists say these treatments could save lives.
Studies show that when transgender youth receive appropriate trans-affirming care, depression rates drop by 60% and suicide rates by 73%.
“Trans affirmation care saves lives, period,” said Heather Eslien, a Sarasota-based licensed mental health counselor who specializes in transgender care.
The state guidelines are based on inaccurate information and would harm already vulnerable children, she said.
Florida’s guidance note came amid similar actions in Texas and Alabama, which seek to limit access to treatments such as puberty-blocking drugs and hormone therapy.
“We are seeing the slippery slope of these attacks taking hold across the country,” Eslien said. “This is such a political attack. And when you talk about attacking young people, I mean that trans young people in particular are already very vulnerable to suicide because of the lack of acceptance by family, the lack of acceptance by society and the fact that they are not included in health care to the extent that they should be then you want to put on top of that you are not allowed to get the care we know because professional providers are medically necessary. “
“So it’s so scary for me, as a supplier, and for my colleagues who do this work.”
Florida’s guidelines were released after the US Department of Health and Human Services issued guidelines last month that its Office for Civil Rights “will continue to work to ensure that transgender and gender non-conforming youth can access health care without the burden of discrimination”.
Along with the new state guidelines, Florida Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo also issued a statement lambasting federal guidelines that supported the treatment of transgender youth.
“It was about injecting political ideology into the health of our children,” Ladapo said.
Abbie Aldridge, a licensed mental health counselor at Largo, said Florida New guidelines will not affect how they practice.
“I will continue to affirm the gender and goals of any young person who seeks my services, as well as supporting their family through the process,” Aldridge said. “Because most of my clients in continuing therapy are primarily adults, the guidelines do not directly impact their access to care. However, it reinforces feelings of being unsafe and unwelcome in Florida.
In response to state guidance, the Florida Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics released a statement that said in part, “Gender-affirming care can save lives. Research shows that access to evidence-based gender-affirming care for adolescents significantly improves their mental health. Appropriate gender-affirming care, conducted in close coordination with pediatricians and parents, is safe and effective in treating patients with gender dysphoria.