Metro Weekly

Virginia transgender man forced to identify as “female” on paperwork to donate blood

Man says staffer outed him to other clients and insisted he list his assigned sex at birth on paperwork

trans, blood, donor, donation, transgender

Blood donation – Photo: Matej Kastelic

A transgender man who was trying to donate blood in Northern Virginia claims staffers at a local health facility forced him to identify as “female” in order to donate.

The man, whose identity is being kept confidential, says he went to an Inova Health System facility in Sterling, Va., on Sept. 22 for a scheduled appointment.

But when he arrived, a front desk staffer wrote down “gender at birth is female” and underlined it after repeatedly telling him, out loud so as to out him to others, that he must be listed by his assigned sex at birth in order to donate.

“When you try to fight back, sometimes it just doesn’t work,” the man told NBC Washington. “They’re too big or too powerful, and in this case it happened, and I said, ‘I’m tired, I’m tired.'”

The man said he stayed and donated blood because it’s important. Blood banks around the country are struggling to encourage people to donate due to decreased supply, which has its roots in the social distancing measures people took to protect themselves amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I was angry,” the man told NBC Washington. “I kept thinking about the next trans person walking in there that does not deserve that.”

He says he’s sharing his story to encourage other transgender blood donors to speak out if they are misgendered in a similar way.

See also: Congressional Democrats introduce bill to revise FDA blood donation rules for LGBTQ people

“I know if it was me three years ago, this would be a different story,” the man said. “I’m strong enough now to do this.”

There is currently no policy in place that requires transgender people to identify as their assigned sex at birth. In fact, transgender donors are encouraged by Food & Drug Administration guidelines to self-identify their gender when making a donation. 

Inova Health System released a statement responding to the donor’s allegations.

“We deeply regret that one of our valued blood donors had a negative experience at one of our centers,” the statement reads. “It is always our intention to respect the privacy of each of our donors, and we believe they deserve a comfortable, respectful and positive experience. We welcome and value the diverse community of donors whose generosity helps to keep our shelves stocked with much-needed, life-saving blood. We hold our team members to the highest standards and will use this as an opportunity to better train our team members and improve our processes.”

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John Riley is the local news reporter for Metro Weekly. He can be reached at jriley@metroweekly.com

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