TAMPA, Fla. — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that nearly 1 million people identify as transgender in the United States. The U.S. Transgender Survey, the largest survey examining the experiences of transgender people in the nation, had 1,099 Florida respondents in 2015, the most recent year.
People who are transgender or gender fluid, identifying outside of the gender binary, tend to experience high rates of stigma and discrimination as well as socioeconomic and structural barriers to care, the CDC says. More specifically, transgender women of color report instances of harassment and violence even in health care settings.
This can prohibit people from seeking proper health care and increase susceptibility to HIV and STIs.
Because of this stigma, the CDC said, providers should foster welcoming environments. Patient-centered care is crucial. Patients should be made to feel safe disclosing their gender identity, sexual orientation and sex assigned at birth to ensure they are receiving proper health care.
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Transgender people face unique challenges. Gender dysphoria, which the Mayo Clinic defines as the feeling of discomfort that can occur in people whose gender identity differs from their sex assigned at birth or their sex-related physical characteristics, can impact their mental health. Transgender individuals often fear discrimination, harassment or violence.
In Florida, debates over transgender-related topics have become more frequent in recent years. One of the subjects has been about transgender athletes in sports.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis weighed in when he declared Sarasota native Emma Weyant the winner of an NCAA 500-meter swim race despite the association naming transgender athlete Lia Thomas as the winner. Then, in June 2022, world swimming's governing body effectively banned transgender women from women's sporting events.
Organizations like Equality Florida say now, more than ever, the transgender community is feeling the impacts of these decisions and looking for support.
"There's this dialogue about us that tries to strip away our humanity and at the end of the day we are still human beings we still bleed red like everyone else and we want to just be happy," said Nikole Parker, the director of Transgender Equality at Equality Florida. "I think a lot of the time when people don't understand something, they fear it. Then fear turns into violence.
"The disproportionate rate of violence that trans people face, particularly Black Trans women is astronomical."
The Human Rights Campaign reported 2021 as the deadliest year on record for transgender and gender non-conforming people.
"The political landscape looks a little tough and we've been targeted as a community, the LGBTQ community broadly but specifically the Trans community in really tough ways the last few years," said Nathan Bruemmer, the LGBTQ Consumer Advocate with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. "When survival is the basic necessity for so many community members, it gets really hard to dream."
Parker urges people to speak with their friends and family and become allies for the trans community.
"All of us have hear anti-LGBTQ+ slurs or conversations and when you hear that I challenge you to just ask someone why do you think that way," Parker said. "Because a lot of the time the people in your circle, you that opportunity to make the light bulb go off."
For anyone struggling, there is help. We've compiled resources below.
National crisis hotlines exist for support:
The National Transgender Lifeline Crisis Line, which is staffed by transgender people, has a 24/7 hotline: 877-565-8860. While it may take longer than usual to get connected during times when call volumes are high, the site encourages people to try calling again.
The Trevor Project also offers a 24 hour telephone: 866-488-7386
A number of organizations and advocacy groups exist in Florida to support transgender and gender non-conforming people:
In the Tampa Bay area, the Transgender Network Tampa works to be a safe and gender-inclusive zone geared towards people who identify as transsexual, transgender, intersex, genderqueer, gender fluid, non-binary, third gender, bigender, pangender, agender, androgyne, neutrois and gender questioning. Their page offers hotlines, events and other helpful information.
Equality Florida, mentioned earlier, exists as a political advocacy group for the civil rights and protections of transgender and all LGBTQ Florida residents.
FDACS has a resource guide for the hundreds of thousands of LGBTQ+ Floridians.
Metro Inclusive Health offers trans healthcare and support services. Those include letters of recommendations for hormone therapy, counseling and primary care.
The Metro LGBTQ Welcome Center is described as a resource and safe space for LGBTQ youth and overall community in St. Pete.
The Institute for LGBT Health and Wellbeing in Tampa acts as a conduit for education, research, training and wellness.
Project Pride SRQ aims to promote awareness and understanding through strategic partnerships.
ALSO Youth says it works to empower youth people and their allies while creating inclusive communities in Sarasota and Manatee counties.
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