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New Rules for Trans Blood Donors Coming to Canada

Trans rights groups are pissed off about the new policy, which focuses on gender identity and surgery—not behaviour.
July 2, 2016, 7:41pm

Morgane Oger of Vancouver's Trans Alliance Society. Still via Breakfast Television

Canadian Blood Services has pissed off members of another marginalized group with new rules for transgender blood donors.

The policy, which comes into force on August 15, will allow trans women to donate blood a year after they've had gender-confirming surgery. "If a trans woman has not had [surgery], that person would be considered as a male having sex with a male," Dr. Mindy Goldman, medical director of Canadian Blood Services, told CBC News.

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Like gay men, trans women were previously banned from donating blood for life until a suite of updates were approved last month. Trans rights groups say the new rules are discriminatory, and won't do a good job of protecting the blood supply.

"It says to trans women: if you haven't had surgery on your privates then you are gross. You obviously take it up the bum from gay men," Morgane Orger of the Trans Alliance Society told VICE. "Whereas if you've had surgery and waited a year, obviously you're cool now because you have a vagina. Real women with vaginas don't have anal sex with gay men."

Read More: The Liberal Party Took Gay Money In Promising to End the Blood Ban. They Failed Us

Oger said she "knows of no science" that shows gender identity or surgery status have any impact on the safety of a person's blood.

"Discriminate based on behaviour, not by things protected by the Charter of Rights," Oger said. "It would be more effective, more honest, and far simpler to ask anyone who has been engaged in anal sex or a list of behaviours associated with viral transmission to abstain from giving blood."

Canadian Blood Services has said the policy is necessary because trans women are a high risk group. An estimated 27.7 percent of trans women in Canada are living with HIV, according to the Interagency Coalition on AIDS and Development. Trans activists have criticized those estimates for being out of date, and skewing toward transsexual sex workers. Dr. Goldman told CBC some cases not covered by staff guidelines will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

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