The Canadian Blood Services’ page asks: “Pop Quiz! What type of blood is the universal donor and is always in high demand?”
Answer: O negative. That’s me. Too bad I won’t be giving blood until gay men are removed from the banned donor list. This policy is in need of a serious update. We’ve learned so much since the ‘gay panic’ of the 80s. Haven’t we? This continues to promote negative stereotypes about the LGBTQ community. Saying you’re not discriminating against a sexual orientation (just men who have slept with men in the last five years) is the biggest equity dodge I’ve heard lately.
Sent an email, via a colleague, to the Blood Services Rep before they do a drive at my school. Still the same ridiculously evasive answer:
The rep wrote, “[I believe she] is referring to the Canadian Blood Services MSM Policy (men who have sex with men in the past 5 years are not eligible to donate). This policy does not discriminate against sexual orientation, rather ensures we have a safe blood supply for the vulnerable patients we serve.
All of this information can be accessed at http://www.blood.ca. ”
“Blood. It’s in you to give.”
Guess what? It IS in me to give. And I care about this. I want to give; but what I also give a crap about is basic, non-discriminatory policies in a country like Canada – that self-identifies as a global leader in equity. Why are we preventing healthy, generous men (who happen to be gay) from helping to save a life? Because we use words like “vulnerable” as scare tactics to insinuate that gay blood belongs to promiscuous, unprotected, reckless … people… who are just as likely as anyone who doesn’t know every detail of their past/partners/partners’ past as anyone else.
The rep’s reply is the same ‘we aren’t discriminating’ crap that they’ve always offered. It rests squarely on the assumption that gay sex, which implicates someone on the basis of “orientation” (unless they are celibate) is somehow dirtier or more ‘risky’, therefore likely to put the ‘vulnerable’ blood recipients at more risk than other people who have sex without condoms or safer sexual practices. * Just so we’re clear. You CAN be gay and donate, as long as you haven’t had sex with a man in 5 years. If, on the other hand, you are a gay man who isn’t actively refraining from having a sex life, your orientation DOES preclude you from donating. So their ‘orientation’ loophole is a gaping black hole of carefully worded b.s.
If someone (anyone) is sleeping with anyone, they may be at risk of having an STI. Yes, gay men in the 80s were hit hard by HIV/AIDS (which we well know) and as a result, their population/community actually tends to be MORE informed and often safer, as a result, than your average sexually active person. But I dare you to find the latest stats on the highest rates of STI transmission. I’m going to bet (I would actually put real money on this) that it’s not gay men who are contracting the most new STIs. So, let’s not be naive (or a bigot): essentially, every person who doesn’t know every detail of every partner’s past, every monogamous partner who has unknowingly been cheated on, every one night stand, every broken condom, or forgotten one, makes someone just as likely to be ‘unsafe’ – sexual orientation aside.
I’m really disappointed by the answer I got. Because I thought our new Prime Minister, Mr. Trudeau, had JUST issued directives to help end this policy. There is even a link to the Petition to end this ban.
Maybe our GSA members will want to protest the blood drive. Just kidding. Sort of. But I’m glad I asked. Never a fun question; always an interesting answer.
As a final thought: When this policy does end, I’ll throw a vampire-themed party and let them pump all my veins to within an inch of my life.
#bloodbandiscrimination #canadianbloodservice #equityplease
For more on this… check out the ever-reliable wikipedia Here