'Like a slap in the face': Winnipegger slams rules for transgender blood donations

A Winnipeg trans woman is speaking out against new blood donor rules for transgender people that came into effect on Monday.

Activist speaks out against Canadian Blood Services’ new rules for trans donors

Rikki Dubois says Canadian Blood Services new blood policy makes her uncomfortable. (Austin Grabish / CBC)

A Winnipeg transgender woman is speaking out against new blood donor rules that came into effect on Monday.

Rikki Dubois, 54, says Canadian Blood Services new blood policy makes her uncomfortable.

"They're still labelling us as different than the rest of society," Dubois said. 

"No one has a right to ask me what I got in my pants except for when giving blood, and that is not right."

Before Monday, transgender donors could only give blood on a case-by-case basis. 

"We see this as a first step and are committed to gathering scientific data and working with stakeholder groups to improve criteria in the future," Canadian Blood Services said in a written statement to CBC.

The new rules mean different protocols for transgender women depending on if they have undergone gender confirming surgery. 

Trans women who undergo gender confirming surgery will have to wait one year before they can donate blood. After the wait period, Canadian Blood services will also identify them by their reconfirmed gender. 

If a trans woman has not had the surgery, that person would be considered as a male having sex with a male. They will follow the updated guidelines for gay blood donors, which means they can donate blood if they had abstained from sex for at least one year.

Donors who haven't had gender affirming surgery will also be forced to answer a series of questions and will then either be denied or allowed to give.

'I expect to be treated as a woman'

Dubois, who gave blood 29 times before transitioning, said she wants to be recognized as a woman and not as a transgender person when donating.

"For me, when they look at me, I expect to be treated as a woman, not as a trans person," she said.

"Any other person who goes to give blood, their blood is tested, and they're accepted for who they are."

The new regulations are complicated and differ depending on the trans donor's sexual history. 

"For example, trans females [who have not had lower gender affirming surgery] will be asked whether they had sex with a male, and if the response is yes, they would be deferred for one year after their last sexual contact," according to Canadian Blood Services' website.

For Dubois, she doesn't want to think back to her life as a man. 

"Some of it is very personal," she said.

"Being reminded of the person we didn't like being is kind of like a slap in the face."

Several trans activists have spoken out against the new policy saying it focuses too much on whether a person has physically transitioned through surgery.