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Central Florida trans members, supports head to Capital ahead of gender-affirming care board meeting

Equality Florida bus to Tallahassee
Joe Mario Pedersen
Equality Florida chartered a bus Friday from Orlando to Tallahassee, transporting trans people and supporters to attend a meeting by the Florida Board of Medicine and Florida Board of Osteopathic Medicine, which were meeting to discuss gender dysphoria treatment for minors.

The Florida Board of Medicine and Board of Osteopathic Medicine had a joint meeting Friday to discuss gender treatment for minors.

In response, about 30 Equality Florida trans community members took a bus out of downtown Orlando to Tallahassee to comment on the boards’ plans.

Last year, the boards voted to ban gender-affirming care in the treatment of minors.

The DeSantis administration has said there’s insufficient evidence that gender-affirming care is safe and effective. However, the American Academy of Pediatrics supports the practice.

Studies at the National Library of Medicine say 40 percent of trans people have attempted suicide, with the highest percentage among transgender youth due to dysphoria. Additional studies at the library show that gender-affirming therapies can greatly improve an individual's mental health.

Friday's meeting focused on gender dysphoria, which is the unease a person feels because of a mismatch between their biological sex and their gender identity.

Sebastian Cook, of Melbourne, is an 18-year-old trans man who boarded the bus Friday and said he's going to Tallahassee to help save the lives of those afraid to speak out.

“This care is life-saving this gender-affirming care," he said. "You take that away from these children who are given the opportunity to have it and you're single-handedly ruining their lives. These kids are going to die.”

Jillian Jenkins a 36-year-old transwoman from Oviedo who was also on the bus, said the state of Florida is standing in the way of a family’s decision to receive treatment.

"One of the most terrifying things you can experience is looking lawmakers in the eyes while they vote to take your rights away," she said. "We’re taking away that choice from families and we’re taking away the ability of some of these parents to love their children unconditionally and give them the care that they need to be happy.”

Originally from South Florida, Joe Mario came to Orlando to attend the University of Central Florida where he graduated with degrees in Radio & Television Production, Film, and Psychology. He worked several beats and covered multimedia at The Villages Daily Sun but returned to the City Beautiful as a reporter for the Orlando Sentinel where he covered crime, hurricanes, and viral news. Joe Mario has too many interests and not enough time but tries to focus on his love for strange stories in comic books and horror movies. When he's not writing he loves to run in his spare time.
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