Transgender man upset after being barred from donating blood

Posted at 6:34 PM, Sep 21, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-21 21:21:40-04

HENRICO COUNTY, Va. -- The Food and Drug Administration does not ban transgender people from donating blood, but Virginia Blood Services permanently defers transgender donors.

Theodore Kahn said he donates blood whenever possible, yet, he said when he stopped by Virginia Blood Services on Tuesday, donor relations turned him away because he is transgender.

Theodore Kahn

Theodore Kahn

“Because I had begun to medically transition, I was on permanent deferment for donating,” Kahn said.

Kahn said he legally changed his name after undergoing hormone replacement therapy, and this is the first time he gave Virginia Blood Services his new male name.

He left in shock after getting rejected.

“It absolutely hurts my feelings a lot,” Kahn said.

CBS 6 reporter Melissa Hipolit asked Virginia Blood Services about what happened.


Spokesperson Michelle Westbay wrote in a statement that they can’t comment on this particular case due to donor confidentiality rules, but she said donors who identify as transgender are deferred from donating blood to others.

While their policy is a permanent deferral for transgender donors, Westbay says it is currently under review.

She said the policy is not meant to hurt anyone, but to ultimately ensure that they have the safest blood supply available for everyone.

Here is her full statement about why:

“We understand and applaud your desire to actively support the community through blood donation. Our role is to protect the safety of the blood supply by establishing policies based on the most current public health data. We understand that the data currently available is not perfect, and we constantly reevaluate new data when it becomes available.

However, until that data is available, we can only rely on the data we have which suggests that there is a greater risk for HIV infection in the transgender population than even other groups already deferred for risk.  Additionally, there are associated transfusion challenges associated with products collected from individuals undergoing high dose hormone therapy.

Historically, as an industry, we have erred on the side of patient safety. We strive to be completely transparent in our policies so that our community understands why we take the precautions we do. The support and engagement of the transgender community is appreciated as we strive to support all of the communities that we serve .

These policies are not meant to hurt anyone, but ultimately to ensure that we have the safest blood supply available for everyone.  Our goal is to prevent any patient who requires blood from acquiring an infection from a transfusion. We ask all of the citizens in our community to continue to support us in that endeavor.”