The updated blood donation eligibility criteria released on 5/11/2023 (which removed the MSM deferment or "queer blood ban") also removed all gendered language. In theory, this should remove barriers for trans & non-binary donors. However, this doesn't mean that the barriers are removed at all blood centers.
Can Trans & Non-binary donors give blood?
Yes, as long as they haven't had anal sex with 2+ partners in the past 3 months, or take PrEP medications- the same criteria applied to all donors.
Queer trans men who participate in receptive vaginal sex are also no longer grouped with cis queer men who participate in anal sex, since vaginal sex has significantly lower risk of all STI transmission compared to anal intercourse.
So, what barriers are potentially still there?
Not every blood center is affirming for trans and non-binary donors. There is a chance that donors would be asked if they are trans, or there may not be a third gender marker for non-binary donors.
We need to look into this to get a better picture of the national status.
Can Trans & Non-Binary Individuals Donate their Tissues?
They answer is yes, in theory, but gets more complicated for a few reasons. First, there is a significantly small amount of published research on the issue. Most tissue donors are deceased at the time of procurement, and if a donor had not undergone a sex change, the screening process might categorize them as the gender they were assigned at birth.
This would men that trans women & non-binary donors assigned male at birth would be subject to the 5-year MSM deferral. However, queer trans men would not be subject if they had sex with another man in the past 5 years (assuming these donors had not undergone surgical reassignment).
TLDR: We don't know YET. We are in contact with tissue banks and will be sharing the results of that process with the public and our supporters. Regardless- removal of the 5-year tissue ban would have and impact on donors outside of just cisgender gay men.
What is Pride and Plasma Doing?
This is a very different issue than the Queer Blood Ban. Although the FDA has removed all gendered language, we don't expect any additional pressure to come from them. The treatment of non-cis donors varies from region to state to city to facility. We need to look into the practices of each individual blood center and the experiences of trans and non-binary donors.
-Blood Center Practice: We are going to contact every blood center that we can and ask them how they treat trans and non-binary donors. "Do you allow donors to self-select their gender?" and "Is there a third gender marker in your screening?". This not only gives us a scope of the issue, but lets us know where we need to focus our end-result initiatives.
-Practice Change: We're not sure on this one. This issue is incredibly different than the MSM blood donation ban, and it requires a different solution. We'll update you along the way and work to ensure transparency with our work and initiatives.
We have even further to go when assessing tissue donation, since we are starting from scratch here. Despite the removal of all gendered language in 2023 for blood donation, the regulation for tissue donation still explicitly includes deferrals for "men who have sex with men". Additionally, the 2020 blood donation update included that gender should be self-reported and self-identified, which is near impossible for trans and non-binary tissue donors, since procurement occurs after death in most cases.
During our conversations with tissue banks, we will ask about their process of screening donors and see if there is a practice for trans and non-binary individuals. We will look to gender-affirming facilities and see if we can implement those practices at facilities that do not recognize a donor's true gender.