Transgender community divided over blood donation law after designer Saisha Shinde was recently prevented from donating blood

As per the medical guidelines, certain people can’t donate blood including the ones in the high-risk category of illness

Hema CUpdated: Saturday, July 02, 2022, 11:01 PM IST
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Saisha Shinde |

It’s a tough world for the LGBTQIA+ community as they still battle prejudices even after the Supreme Court had struck down the draconian Article 377 that criminalised gay sex. While the stories of their battling the discrimination and being mistreated are never-ending, recently designer Saisha Shinde opened up about how she wasn’t allowed to donate blood. In her statement, she said, “I got a call midway reaching there that I can’t donate my blood because of some medical guidelines.”

As per the medical guidelines, certain people can’t donate blood including the ones in the high-risk category of illness. Under the current guidelines issued by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare’s Blood Donor Section and Blood Donor Referral, 2017 clauses 12 and 51 of the general criteria, transgender people, men who have sex with other men, and female sex workers are permanently prohibited from donating blood. The guidelines consider these people to be in the high-risk category for HIV/AIDS infection. “The irony is, two years ago I donated my blood but now because my identity has changed I cannot donate blood. As if my blood has changed. But it’s not. It is beyond discriminatory,” Saisha narrated. However, the designer didn’t give details about the medical institution that denied her as a blood donor. Ironically, the incident happened with Saisha during Pride Month.

Prateek George, a resident of Mumbai had dealt with a similar situation when his gay friend was not allowed to donate blood when his sister needed it after surgery. “It’s disheartening. I believe it is important for society as a whole to support each of its members, irrespective of colour, gender, sexual orientation, or caste. Blood doesn’t change when you change your sex then why one is not allowed. We are humans just like anyone else,” he says.

LGBTQIA+ rights activist Harish Iyer says that’s an American law and it’s unconvincing. “They think we are a vulnerable community and we have a lot of sex with same-sex so we are not healthy so we can’t donate blood. There are several petitions filed by different states and communities and there is no resolution.”

However, Gauri Sawant, a transgender activist from Mumbai, points out that with proper documents and reports any trans-person is allowed to donate blood. “I have donated my blood four times. When you are undergoing sex reassignment surgery you are taking hormone therapy which affects your T2 level. Also, homosexuals are considered to be HIV +ve. You need to submit your health documents and no one can stop you from donating blood. The problem is we never give the full story, we only want to find a way to create chaos,” avers Gauri.

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