There is a second regional affiliate in the state, Planned Parenthood of South, East and North Florida, where the services will be added later.
Planned Parenthood has always been available to anyone who needs sexual and reproductive health care.
The intent is to offer prescription-based hormone replacement therapy to transgender individuals during the transition process, regardless of whether patients decide to have surgery or if they opt not to, she said.
Directors at Planned Parenthood realize the transgender population and gender-nonconforming people are often at a loss of where to access services, in addition to feeling uncomfortable in some medical settings, Prabhakaran said. “Our mission is to meet the unmet need,” she said.
She could estimate how many transgender patients are expected to pursue services at Planned Parenthood.
Barbara Zdravecky, chief executive officer of Planned Parenthood in Southwest Florida and Central Florida, said the nonprofit health care group has been available for 50 years to all Florida residents who seek comprehensive reproductive health, cancer screenings and other services.
“We are committed to providing high quality, expert health care regardless of race, income, geography, citizenship status or gender identify and expression,” she said in a press release. “These new services will strengthen our ability to provide the Florida communities we serve with the essential health care services they need to be healthy and strong.”
Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals are often challenged getting medical and social service support in settings where they feel comfortable, and the consequence can be inadequate outcomes, according to research by the Kaiser Family Foundation.
One survey among transgender individuals found that 28 percent had been harassed in a medical setting and 2 percent were physically assaulted. In addition, 19 percent were refused medical care, and 28 percent delayed seeking medical care when they were sick or injured due to discrimination.
Planned Parenthood will integrate appointments for transgender patients with all other patients, which keeps with its mission to serve all patients and protect patient privacy, Prabhakaran said.
There are no plans to beef up security at clinics, which include cameras and other measures to protect patients.
Hormone replacement services for transgender patients may be covered under the patients’ private insurance, while fees for out-of-pocket paying patients are affordable, she said.
Prabhakaran said patients transitioning from one gender to the other may elect to take hormone replacement therapy with or without surgery. They usually come in for an initial evaluation and then return every three to four months for assessment, she said.
The term “transition” addresses a whole spectrum of change in terms of gender identity, she said.
“Everybody has a different end point,” she said.
In addition, people may find their needs change later in life, including the need for surgery, she said.
Many transgender people face anxiety and other mental health challenges, and Planned Parenthood staff can screen for referring patients to counseling, Prabhakaran said.
Zdravecky said the organization is proud to serve transgender people.
“Continually working to make our health centers safe and supportive environments is valuable for all patients, by allowing people to be who they are, and by providing them with a supportive, inclusive and nonjudgmental health care environment,” she said.