- A transgender man trying to donate blood in Virginia was forced to identify as female on paperwork by a staff member at the facility.
- According to ABC 4 Washington, the unnamed man went to an Inova Health System facility in Sterling, Virginia when a front desk worker wrote down “gender is female” on his forms.
- When he pushed back, the employee repeatedly told him he needed to put down his assigned sex at birth rather than his gender. No legal guidelines require this.
- The US Food and Drug Administration changed its guidelines in 2018 to allow transgender blood donors to put down their gender rather than their sex assigned at birth on documents.
- The FDA still recommends donors choose ‘male’ or ‘female’ on forms, excluding non-binary people from self-identifying as their gender.
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A transgender man was told that he could not donate blood at a facility in Sterling, Virginia, unless he put down “female” on his paperwork.
An employee at an Inova Health System facility wrote “gender at birth is female” on his forms when he went in to donate on September 22, ABC 4 Washington reported.
The man, who withheld his name, pointed out the mistake to the employee. According to ABC, she responded by underlining the phrase and repeated he needed to put it on the form multiple times.
Exasperated, he said he stopped arguing and conceded, so he could go through with the appointment.
“I was angry,” he told ABC 4 Washington. “I kept thinking about the next trans person walking in there that does not deserve that.”
In a statement, Inova Health System said: “We deeply regret that one of our valued blood donors had a negative experience at one of our centers. It is always our intention to respect the privacy of each of our donors, and we believe they deserve a comfortable, respectful and positive experience.”
No laws require trans donors to put down their assigned sex
There is no existing policy that mandates trans people must put down the gender they were assigned at birth.
The US Food and Drug Administration changed its guidelines to be more inclusive of transgender blood donors in 2018, strongly advises facilities allow people to self-identify their gender on their blood donation paperwork rather than using their assigned sex at birth.
The American Red Cross, which provides 40% of transfused blood in the US, stopped requiring facilities to ask trans donors for their assigned gender when the FDA’s policy changed.
Prior to the change in policy, it was common for trans blood donors to be told to misgender themselves on forms and sometimes even use their “dead-name,” a commonly-use phrase to describe a person’s name given at birth that they no longer use.
Because misgendering and deadnaming can be very emotionally traumatic and anxiety-inducing for trans people, those attempting to donate blood were discouraged to do so.
The FDA still requires non-binary people, trans or not, to self-identify as ‘male’ or ‘female’ on forms
While binary transmen and transwomen are encouraged to self-identify on forms, the FDA does not allow non-binary and gender non-conforming people to do the same.
The FDA’s revised guidelines state non-binary people must pick between “male” and “female” on blood donor questionnaires, which the American Red Cross also requires.
In 2019, a non-binary person in San Diego was denied from donating blood because their California state ID marker read X, a non-binary gender marker option available in a growing number of states.
While LGBTQ advocates are pushing back against the policy, problems with the FDA and queer donors are nothing new.
Blood donations have a fraught history with LGBTQ donors
The FDA put restrictions on men who have sex with men, barring them from donating blood in 1983 because of the growing concern of the spread of HIV/AIDs.
It wasn’t until 2015 that the government agency revised its guidelines, allowing queer men to donate blood but only if they had abstained from having sex with men for the last 12 months.
In light of the COVID-19 pandemic creating a donor blood shortage, the organization changed its policies once again in April allowing men who have sex with men to donate blood after three months of abstaining from having sex with men rather than 12.
This still policy still prevents many queer men from donating blood in the US.
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