Orlando transgender health services welcomed by students

Photo courtesy Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida.

The transgender community has recently gained a new source of health and educated advising in Orlando.

At the end of September, Planned Parenthood announced the addition of transgender services to its previous health care services. The nonprofit will be providing hormone replacement therapy, or HRT, for those 18 years and older.

“We’ve always been a provider of all people no matter their gender or identity … we’ve always created a safe space to make sure no one feels judged,” said Anna Eskamani, a senior director of public affairs and communications for Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida.

Since the announcement of the services, Planned Parenthood has had more than 12 appointments for HRT inquiries and other transgender health issues, Eskamani said.

“We are just excited to provide more opportunities to help people be their authentic self and create a more equal world,” Eskamani said.

Kelly Richardson, a health services administration senior, said she has several friends who are transgender and is happy to hear of Planned Parenthood’s new services.

“HRT [at Planned Parenthood] will be useful for the UCF trans community because UCF cannot prescribe HRT at the health center,” Richardson, 21, said. “[Transgender people] will have an easier means of obtaining hormone therapy and won’t feel stigmatized at Planned Parenthood.”

Planned Parenthood has hired professionals who specialize in transgender medicine and all current staff members have been trained in pronoun usage and identification sensitivity. For example, should a client have a preferred name that is different than their legal name, staff members are now trained on how to handle the situation while being aware of the client’s preferences.

Gina Duncan, the transgender inclusion director at Equality Florida, trained Planned Parenthood employees on transgender cultural competency and covered basic trans concepts such as vocabulary and practice of workplace policy and protocol.

“I have already heard from transgender people who have engaged Planned Parenthood for their HRT needs and are so thankful to have a quality and trans-friendly health care resource to support their transition,” Duncan said.

Eskamani said even if clients do not have insurance or a plan that covers it, Planned Parenthood will try its hardest to work with lowering costs.

Health sciences senior Melissa Nogues anticipates positive feedback from the UCF trans community.

“I think it will make a very positive impact, especially since most of the transgender students I know do not have access to health insurance, or cannot use their family’s health insurance due to them not being out to their family,” Nogues, 22, said.

Following in the steps of Planned Parenthood, UCF student-serving clinic, UCF Health, is in the process of hiring a trans health specialist. Dr. Maria Cannarozzi, the director of internal medicine, said that while the facility does care for trans patients with other service needs, such as primary care and cardiology, without a specialist they are not able to facilitate gender transitions with hormone therapy.

“We realize the importance of [HRT] and so with our second endocrinology hire, we were specifically looking for someone who is comfortable with transgender medicine,” Cannarozzi said.

Senior fine arts major Rhiannon Neal, who identifies as transgender, said she is more likely now to use Planned Parenthood’s services, but feels the UCF community still has more to learn about those who identify as trans.

“I think more people should understand that being trans is not a phase and there is no standard of how to be trans,” Neal, 21, said. “There is no wrong way to be transgender.”

While staff members of Planned Parenthood and UCF students look forward to this new medicine available, for Nogues, there is still more that can be done.

“To be honest, there is so much more to be done to better serve the health of people who identify as transgender,” Nogues said. “Having this kind of training, but implementing it across all levels of health care, and having more resources readily available to them are good steps.”