Blood Bank Shit Show

I had wanted this week to write about the stresses of the passing of my parents. I also wanted to talk about music. Instead, I went to a blood bank drive put on by my work (through a third party) and instead had one of the worst at work experiences for my transition.

This resulting in me officially filing an EEO complaint against the company. I figure I will just copy and paste my complaint here… enjoy (I will post later about my personal feelings/reactions/etc). What I submitted will be in blue.

Hi AWESOME HR PERSON (Will talk later on why she is actually so awesome):

Here is the situation as it unfolded. I apologize, I didn’t know what the rules were when I went there, so I didn’t advocate for myself very strongly because I was feeling pretty vulnerable, alone and with no idea what I was allowed to do. Especially since it was through work I didn’t want to rock the boat too much. Thank you for the supportive call, the county themselves have been great.

Some important facts (not sure if you need them but they help):

  • I am a transgender woman, I have been on HRT/Medical transition since March 2018, but only legally changed my gender in May 2019 (including birth certificate).
  • I am recognized by medical practitioners, along with local, state and federal government as female. This isn’t just a presenting as a woman, I am female in all legal classifications.
  • I have been married for 28 years. My husband is also transgender (he was my wife when we got married in 1992, and was my wife for the first 21 years of our marriage – he transitioned in 2013).
  • These details will be important when we get to the second issue.

I sat through the initial intake and the lady that was responsible for that was great. She referred to me as female and never blinked. She, however, wasn’t sure how to answer the gender-based sexual interaction questions and advised that maybe I should wait for the person who scores the questions to get how to handle it. This was totally satisfactory, with no concerns.

I sat down with the lady in question and the first thing I noticed is she looked like someone had slapped her in the face. She had a very surprised look. I was not offended by this, it appeared she had never been this close to a transgender person and, to be honest, that is not an unusual reaction. I said nothing and she started going over the questions.

My first concern though is the use of my pronouns. She referred to me as “he/him” more than seven times (I stopped counting after that) in the next ten minutes. At no point did she refer to me as she/her to others in this whole conversation. This whole thing was over in less than 10 minutes. I corrected her every time. She did apologize every time, but then she referred to me as male every time thereafter. This was even with the other blood donation workers who came in to help, and the tiny room was on the back of the bus with the door open, so it could be heard by the county employees that were waiting as well.

I understand sometimes people slip up, the frustrating part is that she never once got my pronouns right, it was loud enough for everyone to hear and she used it with other people and me. I was very embarrassed. I am incredibly aware that while sometimes I think I might not look bad, I don’t “pass” at this moment. It really did make me want to slink away after the first three or four times.

The worst part was I was dressed in a nice skirt, blouse, I have breasts and had makeup on. I was dressed more femininely then probably anyone in my department (and definitely more so then everyone on the bus).

The second issue and this is the biggest is the actual denial of giving blood after answering the questions on the intake form. The lady asked me when did I become female. I explained that I was always female, but that I legally changed my designation in May 2019. I explained however that I was on HRT longer and that my birth certificate said I was female. I also explained that I believed that established me as a female from birth. To be honest I don’t think she understood and just ignored when I said it.

From here on out she referred to me as a man before May 2019… even when I tried to correct her. She originally was going to fail me on donating blood because she believed I was a man who had intimate contact with another man (my husband) within the last 12 months. I objected to this and she looked through the guidelines book and then had to call a gentleman over. By the way, he was nothing but kind, used my pronouns and was trying to find a way for me to be able to donate.

He helped correct her that I didn’t fail that question since I am legally a woman. So we then went to the next question and she failed me on the question that asks if I had (as a female) been intimate with a man who had intimacy with another man in the last 12 months. I explained my husband had only ever been with me this year.

She said that then yes I had been intimate with a man who was intimate with another man… she was saying I was that man. This was definitely logic I didn’t understand. I was failed because she was saying I was a man in February of 2019 and was intimate with my husband and that my husband is considered to have had homosexual intimacy in the last 12 months, with me… who is considered female now.

I brought up that my birth certificate was female and asked if didn’t that make it heterosexual intimacy for my whole life with men and she said no. I was a man up until May of 2019. I even brought up that my husband was originally AFAB and when we married I was legally a boy and he was legally a girl and she said no… he is a man and I am a woman now but was a man 10 months ago.

To be honest I had kind of given up at this point. It was obvious she considered me a man legally, no matter what my birth certificate said, before May 2019. She had been misgendering me the whole time and I was pretty close to just breaking down and crying. I didn’t fight it, even though it sounded wrong. I just wanted to get out of there.

Once I had gotten home though I did some research and found where I believe they were absolutely wrong and it was discriminatory. I reviewed the FDA website along with the American Red Cross, the agency responsible for the largest amount of blood donations in the United States. I have added at the bottom here their specific details/URLs. In short, though, I should have been considered female for my whole time, I should not have to answer both the male and female sections and in fact, my husband would never have been considered to be intimate with a man since that was me and I am legally female (there is no “before your ID was updated” rule).

I was incredibly embarrassed by this, it has bothered me for a couple of days and now I am feeling fairly upset that somehow I am treated as both a boy and a girl, even though my gender is female both in presentation and legal documents. I am horrified that I had to give dates on my transition status and was treated as a man before May 2019 even though I explained my birth certificate is female.

FDA RECOMMENDATIONS TO BLOOD ESTABLISHMENTS

How do the recommendations apply to transgender individuals?

The FDA’s recommendation to blood establishments is that in the context of the donor history questionnaire, male or female gender should be self-identified and self-reported for the purpose of blood donation.

https://www.fda.gov/vaccines-blood-biologics/blood-blood-products/revised-recommendations-reducing-risk-human-immunodeficiency-virus-transmission-blood-and-blood

AMERICAN RED CROSS GUIDANCE:

Transgender Donors

The FDA revised guidance states, “In the context of the donor history questionnaire, FDA recommends that male or female gender be taken to be self-identified and self-reported.” This change allows blood donors to register with the gender in which they identify. The Red Cross will no longer ask donors to answer both male and female questions when attempting to donate. There is no deferral associated with being transgender, and eligibility will be based upon the criteria associated with the gender the donor has reported. See additional blood donation eligibility criteria.

Red Cross staff members are required to verbally confirm demographic information, including gender, with all presenting donors. This step helps ensure donor safety and accuracy of records. If Red Cross records have the incorrect gender, presenting donors may ask staff members to make the change upon registration. Individuals do not need to tell staff that they are transgender.  Individuals with specific questions about eligibility can contact the Red Cross Donor and Client Support Center at 1-866-236-3276.  

https://www.redcrossblood.org/donate-blood/how-to-donate/eligibility-requirements/lgbtq-donors.html

 

There it is folks, my submission to my HR. I will talk more later about my feelings, but honestly I am still really angry and can’t put it in writing at the moment.