Vancouver clinic rejects transgendered woman's blood
Vancouverite Clayre Sessoms says she gives blood regularly, even since disclosing her transgender status, but on her last attempt, Wednesday, she said she was turned away because staff at a downtown Vancouver clinic said they don’t have a policy on transgender people. (PHOTO SUBMITTED)
"If you’re bleeding in the ER, would you refuse blood from a qualified transgender donor?" — Clayre Sessoms, in blog post
A Vancouver woman found out that the Canadian Blood Services slogan — “It’s in you to give” — isn’t always true after a clinic would not let her donate blood because she is transgender.
Clayre Sessoms said she gives blood regularly — even since disclosing her transgender status. During her last attempt on Wednesday, she said that she was turned away because staff at a downtown Vancouver clinic — where she’s donated before — said they don’t have a policy regarding transgender people.
“There’s just like the process and forms that we have to go through just because it’s not in our criteria,” said a staff member Sessoms identified as “Jennifer” in an audio recording posted to her blog.
Sessoms said she was happy to answer any pertinent medical questions, but didn’t understand why staff asked her whether or not she had the surgery to complete her transition.
She said the blood donor policy on five-year deferral related to gay sex did not apply to her — “I’m a happily married lesbian” — nor did any of the travel restrictions. She said her preliminary hemoglobin test — a prerequisite for donating – showed adequate levels.
In her blog’s audio recording, clinic staff confirmed that the hormones she is taking as part of her transition were not the issue.
“So you’re deferring me because I’m transgender?” said Sessoms on the recording.
“Because we have to get a special form,” said the staffer identified as “Jennifer.”
A representative of Canadian Blood Services said they could not speak about specific donors due to privacy issues.
"I felt very hurt, it's just disgusting," said Sessoms, adding she is contemplating filing a complaint with the BC Human Rights Tribunal.
People interested in listening to the recording of her trip to the clinic can visit her blog at clayresessoms.com/bad-blood.