Canadian Blood Services update

Remember when CBS made an arse of itself on national TV announcing changes to its QUILTBAG donor policies?

CBS and I have been corresponding back and forth for a while now. And, to my surprise, they have invited me to Vancouver to join them in a consultation & planning session concerning their next iteration of the policy on November 17th and 18th.

I’m not sure there will be much for me to report. Talk is cheap, and the real prize in this endeavour will be the implementation of a new policy.

However, it speaks highly of any organization that is knowingly inviting someone so critical of their policies and behaviour in the media to speak their piece directly to people who are equipped to change said policy. Throughout my back-and-forth communications with CBS, I am struck by how remarkably perceptive they are to actually listening. This is definitely not the common approach. Most organizations take a Father Knows Best approach and you’ll never get through to them, but CBS has been very willing to collaborate.

It gives me hope, though I will refrain from recanting on my criticisms until there’s an actual policy announcement in place. There are no promises until its in writing.

As for me, I’ll be emphasizing two things on November 17th:

  1. They need to recognize, at minimum, trans people as our own distinct epidemiological category. Since the crux of the policy is around rates of HIV, those rates need to be accurately established. At minimum a distinction between cis men, cis women, trans men, trans women, and non-binary people ought to be considered when CBS commissions its next round of research for Health Canada.
  2. They need to train their staff to respond to trans donors appropriately. I am aware that health risks between donors change based off of certain characteristics, but not all of those characteristics are incontrovertibly married to sex assigned at birth. That means the staff treatment of donors as well as the questionnaires could be more accurate in what information they’re trying to acquire.

After November 17th I’ll likely take another crack at how their policies stack up to their citations.