A Canadian woman who regularly donates blood was turned away from a clinic this week; after nurses found out she was transgender.
Clayre Sessoms went to give blood in downtown Vancouver on Wednesday (14 May) when she was turned away by the nurses and told she couldn’t give blood.
After declaring the hormones she was taking for her transition, Sessoms was questioned about whether she had gender reassignment surgery and was informed her blood donation had to be deferred.
‘I was deeply hurt. I was kind of dumbstruck at first’ said Sessoms.
‘I went to donate blood, just like I did every other time and I went through their questionnaire and I met all of their criteria that was written down.’
Sessoms said she had no problem giving blood back in November, when she had already transitioned and changed her name.
Sessoms also said she believes the Canadian Blood Services, and the clinic she attended, were influenced by negative stereotypes of trans people and their sex lives.
‘People can't imagine that a transgender person is someone who's married, who's happily married, who has a family of support...and has a lot of friends who are behind them 100 per cent’ she said.
‘It's unfair, they're putting that on to their decision that perhaps disqualifies me from being able to donate blood.’
Morgane Oger, with the Transgender Alliance of British Columbia, told CBC news she also believes the clinic was acting on negative stereotypes.
‘In this case, because Clayre is a transgender person, which is an identity, she's being put into a population group that has negative behaviour, rather than being asked about her behaviour and her activities’ she said.
‘What they are saying is, 'Because you are a transgender person, you personally are a special case, you need to be filtered on an individual level, because you're presumed to be dangerous.
‘Lots of transgender people are married professionals and they don't take drugs and don't do any high-risk behaviour.’
The Canadian Blood services released a statement regarding the incident.
‘Canadian Blood Services does not exclude any potential donor based solely on gender, race, religion, or sexual orientation’ read the statement.
‘Any transsexual or transgendered individual is screened at our blood donor clinics according to the same standard eligibility criteria we use for all blood donors.
‘In certain cases, a donor with a complex medical history may be referred to one of our medical staff for further assessment. This procedure is in place to protect both the donor and the patient.’
Sessoms, who has written a blog about her experience at the clinic, said she will continue to give blood but wants to see the blood services put a policy in place with regards to trans people.
‘Excluding someone because you don't know how to approach or interact with someone who is transgender is not a policy’ she said.
‘I'm more than willing to not only just give blood, but to talk to them and to try to figure out a way that we can actually make some change so this does not happen again.’