Western Washington University alumni Briana Reynolds donated plasma four years prior to beginning transition at Biolife without a hitch. She said that Biolife never asked her about her sexual orientation. However, after she began the transition to female, Biolife continued to identify her as male and assumed she was having unsafe sex with men and would not allow her to donate.
Not only was Reynolds self esteem damaged she also lost an important source of income.
Although Reynolds filled out a form at BioLife stating she has never engaged in male-to-male sex and sexual orientation was never brought up during her meeting with the nurse, homosexual behavior was the reason given to explain why Reynolds was ineligible to donate, she said.
“I don’t know how to describe how it made me feel,” Reynolds said. “It’s judging me and making assumptions about me simply based on the way I dress.”
Even though Reynolds is a virgin and has never engaged in any type of sexual encounters, the nurse wouldn’t budge on the issue, Reynolds said.
“I don’t dress like a woman when I go out. I wear women’s clothing because I am a woman.” Reynolds told Western University’s student newspaper.
The Biolife eligibility criteria makes no mention of transgender status in determining eligibility. It states that a potential donor’s “medical history interview consists of a series of questions about their past and present health history, including questions regarding possible exposure to certain infectious diseases such as HIV and hepatitis.”
Recently in 2013 a transgender woman sued a Plasma collection company. “You people can’t give plasma,” Lisa A. Scott allegedly was told by a CSL Plasma nurse, according to her suit filed in 2013 at the U.S. District Court in Minneapolis.
I spoke with “Bridget” at CSL Plasma Fort Worth, who told me that I could not donate plasma because I am transgender. Bridget would not give me her job title, last name or reason for denial other than my transsexuality. Keep it classy Bridget.
Although the FDA has been aware of the need to study transgender people independently from gay men since 2009, there has been no such initiative undertaken.
|AABB/FDA Liaison Meeting – 5/29/09|
The current guidance from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is to indefinitely defer any male donor who has had sex with another man, in the period from 1977 to the present day.
Female sexual partners of MSM are deferred for one year since the last exposure. This is the same policy used for any sexual partner of someone in a high risk group. The argument used to follow these policies is that blood should be collected from a population that is at low risk for disease, since the tests are not perfect and human error may lead to infected units not being properly discarded, and these population groups would be considered a high risk. The policy was first put in place in 1985
Source CDC “Under existing guidelines, FDA bans any male who has had sexual contact at least one time with another male since 1977 from donating blood during his lifetime. The American Association of Blood Banks (AABB), American Red Cross, America’s Blood Centers, and several major U.S. cities have called for changes to the lifetime ban. HHS is currently revisiting the policy.”
In June of 2010, HHS brought together an independent panel of experts. The Advisory Committee on Blood Safety and Availability reviewed the policy and decided to keep it and concluded the ban was “suboptimal,” because it allows high-risk individuals to donate while keeping low-risk donors out. However, the expert committee also concluded “available scientific data are inadequate to support change to a specific alternate policy.” The panel suggested the policy not be changed and recommended further evaluation.