Blood Ban on Men Who have Sex with Men (MSM) and Transgender Women Who have Sex with Men

Response to Canadian Blood Services’ MSM and Transgender Women Who Have Sex With Men  Donor Criteria Change in August 2016

As of Aug. 15, 2016, men who have sex with men will be ineligible to donate blood if they have had sexual contact with a man for at least one year. The rule before this was a five-year ban under the same circumstances.

This new policy also introduces new discriminatory guidelines on accepting blood from transgender women. The policy states that unless they receive genital surgery a female will be categorized as male in the screening process and be subjected to male guidelines. This means that any woman who is transgender who has had sex with a man in the last year will be ineligible to donate. This policy inaccurately and ignorantly identifies trans women as male. The new policy requiring women who are trans to undergo surgery for a blood donation is unnecessary as genital surgery has nothing to do with blood donation.
This policy reveals a discomfort on the part of CBS in dealing with trans clients and prevents healthy women from donating blood to people who need it. It also serves to reinforce the false belief that trans women are men by forcing trans women to adhere to rules as if they were in fact male.

This policy treats trans men as if they were women, allowing them to donate regardless of their sexual history. This means that even the wording and spirit of their discriminatory policy is inaccurate, as trans men who have male sexual partners are still men who have sex with men.

Like the lifetime ban, the five-year deferral period that followed, and the one-year deferral period, it does not take into account if the individual has used protection, the varying levels of risk associated with different types of sexual acts, or their relationship status.

CBS’s decision to move to a one-year deferral on men who have sex with men is a result of the large amount of public pressure exerted by members of the queer community and our allies, as well as a concerted campaign by several advocacy groups to end the ban.

The impact of tainted blood transfusions in Canada’s history cannot be minimized. However, scientific evidence does not support the need for this extra deferral.

NSRAP will continue to advocate for a behavior-based screening tool, one that does not exclude Canadians from donating blood based on being transgender, or their sexual orientation.

As always, NSRAP encourages and thanks those who are able to donate and choose to do so.

Response to Canadian Blood Services’ MSM Donor Criteria Change in May 2013

On Wednesday, May 22nd, Canadian Blood Services (CBS) announced a change to their donor exclusion policy, which previously included a lifelong ban on donations from those who CBS deems to be “men who have sex with men” (MSM). The lifelong ban is being changed to a five-year deferral period following the donor’s last “MSM activity.”

NSRAP has voted to support a change to a five-year deferral with the promise of further incremental changes in a timely and evidence-based manner.

While this change brings CBS closer to a policy based on behavior and not sexual orientation, it remains a discriminatory policy based on outdated stereotypes of the queer community and blocks many healthy donors from contributing to the blood supply. The five-year deferral means that amongst the people that CBS considers MSM donors, only those who are abstinent for five years or more may donate blood.

Like the lifetime ban, the five-year deferral period does not take into account if the individual has used protection, the varying levels of risk associated with different types of sexual acts, or their relationship status.

CBS’s decision to move to a five-year deferral is a result of the large amount of public pressure exerted by members of the queer community and our allies, as well as a concerted campaign by several advocacy groups to end the ban.

NSRAP is pleased to have been one of the organizations consulted by CBS while they explored this policy change. CBS consulted a variety of organizations, including those who advocate for lifting the ban and patient advocacy groups who favour the ban. The five-year deferral represents a compromise between two groups of stakeholder organizations with conflicting views on the subject.

The impact of tainted blood transfusions in Canada’s history cannot be minimized. However, scientific evidence does not support the need for a lifetime deferral, and CBS acknowledges that the change to a five-year deferral is a first step in incremental shift and will be reviewed as new data and technologies emerge.

NSRAP will continue to advocate for a behavior-based screening tool, one that does not exclude Canadians from donating blood based on their sexual orientation.

As always, NSRAP encourages and thanks those who are able to donate and choose to do so.

 

© 2013 Nova Scotia Rainbow Action Project | Site Admin