Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Can I keep donating blood?

A few days ago I came across this video:

This morning I went to the blood bank to donate plasma. Every time you donate you have to fill out a form, checking yes or no for a bunch of questions. Among those questions are: for men: have you ever had sex with another man? And for women: in the past 12 months, have you had sex with a man who has ever had sex with another man? As you can see the idea that "gay blood" still has a higher risk of being contaminated still lingers in The Netherlands as well. The Dutch LGBT rights organization, the COC, asked questions about this to our government and they are currently debating the issue. They have been for about 7 years now. When asked for an update on this we get  a general reply of: we're working on it, it takes time. Latest news I could find was from november 2012.
Personally, I don't think this should be much of an issue. The risks of gay or bisexual men are close to the same here as for straight people. And even if you are taking risks, the screening fro the blood is very good these days and if there is something wrong the chances that they will notice are close to 100% now. About 8% of the population is gay. I know a lot of gay men who are willing to donate blood. And there is always a shortage. Why not allow them to donate? Do you really care who's blood it is when you are dying? Would you rather die then get a gay man's blood?
As a female to male transgender, I seem to have a bit of a problem though. Which box do I tick? Right now I am still officially registered as female at the blood bank but at some point that will change. What do I do then? If they still ask those questions by then, and they probably will, I will suddenly no longer be allowed to donate. Nothing has changed. At least, my official gender will have changed. But none of my actions will have changed. I am not at a greater risk of getting AIDS. Actually I'm not dating anyone right now but I have had sex with men in the past. And the form says: have you EVER had sex with a man. And yes, I have. So officially, I'm not allowed to donate. This makes me rather angry. I'm trying to help. I'm trying to save peoples lives. And because I am being myself I am suddenly no longer allowed to do that. It's a very strange world we live in. However, I will continue to donate for as long as I can and I encourage others to do the same. You never know when you or a loved one will be on the receiving end.

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