Plasma is the clear, straw-colored liquid part of blood that carries blood cells, proteins, and other substances. It is important for many medical procedures, such as treating burns, blood clotting disorders, and immune deficiencies.
Plasma donation is the process of giving plasma to a blood bank. It is a safe and relatively painless procedure that can take about an hour.
Yes, being transgender does not prevent someone from donating plasma. Transgender individuals are evaluated on the same medical criteria as all donors to determine eligibility.
Transgender Identities Are Valid
Transgender people have an intrinsic right to define their own gender identities and have those identities respected. A transgender person’s identity as male, female or non-binary is equally as authentic and valid as a cisgender person’s identity.
For transgender people, donating plasma should be approached in the same way as any other common activity – without judgment and with full respect for their identity. Transgender status alone does not impact a person’s eligibility or suitability as a plasma donor. Blood donation centers aim to create an inclusive environment where all donors feel comfortable and able to give the gift of plasma.
To put transgender donors at ease, donation centers train their staff to be sensitive to the specific needs of transgender people. Donors are addressed using their preferred name and pronouns throughout the donation process. Appropriate forms are available to allow donors to specify their gender as male, female or non-binary. The focus is on making the donation experience as comfortable and stigma-free as possible for all people.
Donating Plasma Requirements
The American Red Cross and other blood donation organizations do not have blanket restrictions excluding transgender people as plasma donors. They evaluate all donors on an individual basis according to the same medical criteria.
To donate plasma, all individuals must meet certain health criteria. This includes:
- Being at least 16 years old (18 in some states) and weighing at least 110 lbs.
- Having proper identification.
- Not having certain medical conditions or risk factors, like HIV/AIDS, hepatitis or recent tattoos.
- Not being at risk of transmitting infections that could be passed on through plasma products.
For transgender donors, careful consideration is given to any medical history, medications and lifestyle factors that could impact their eligibility. This includes hormone therapies they may be undergoing and an honest assessment of any sexual risk factors. However, a person’s transgender identity in and of itself does not prohibit them from donating plasma. The focus is on the donor’s current health and risk factors, not their gender identity.
With appropriate screening and education, many transgender individuals can safely become regular plasma donors, helping patients in need. Those who do not initially qualify may become eligible in the future as their circumstances change.
Special Considerations For Transgender People Who Are On Hormone Therapy
Transgender people who are taking hormone therapies as part of their transition may have some additional considerations before donating plasma. Hormone replacement therapies, such as estrogen and testosterone, require special screening to ensure donor plasma is safe for recipients.
When a transgender person on hormones comes in to donate, the staff will ask additional questions during the pre-screening process:
- They will ask what hormones the donor is taking and in what form (pills, patches, injections). This determines how long the hormones may remain in the donor’s system.
- They will ask how long the donor has been on hormones. New donors who recently started hormone therapy may need to wait longer before donating plasma.
- They will ask about the prescribed dosage and any changes in dosage over time. Higher dosages may require a longer deferral period.
- They will check if the donor’s hormone levels are within normal male or female ranges for their identified gender. Levels outside these ranges could impact donor eligibility.
Based on a transgender donor’s specific hormone regimen, the donation center may require a deferral period anywhere from a few days to several months to allow the hormones to clear from the donor’s system. This ensures the plasma does not contain hormone levels that could be harmful to recipients.
The deferral period is longest for donors taking higher dosages or more potent forms of hormones, like injections.
For estrogen injections, a 12-week deferral is typically required.
For testosterone injections, a 16-week deferral is often recommended.
For donors taking oral hormone pills in lower doses, much shorter deferral periods of 1 to 2 weeks may be sufficient. However, each donor’s situation is considered individually based on their prescribed regimen.
Once a transgender donor on hormone therapy has been medically cleared to donate, they may need to follow additional requirements with each donation:
- They may need to confirm that their hormone dosage and regimen has not changed.
- They may need to get their hormone levels rechecked periodically to ensure they remain within an acceptable range.
- They may need a longer deferral if their hormone therapy is recently adjusted.
With proper screening of hormone levels and therapy regimens, many transgender individuals on hormones can become regular plasma donors. The requirements are tailored specifically to each person’s situation to ensure the plasma collected meets all safety standards.
Making Transgender Donors Comfortable
It is important for donation centers to create an environment where all donors feel respected and comfortable, including transgender individuals. Blood centers are taking several steps to make the donation process as sensitive and inclusive as possible for transgender donors:
- Utilizing inclusive donor forms. The forms allow donors to self-identify their gender identity and specify their chosen name and pronouns.
- Training staff on transgender issues. Staff learn how to properly address transgender donors by their preferred name and pronouns. They are also educated on common questions or concerns transgender donors may have.
- Having transgender-sensitive policies. Organizations implement policies that respect transgender individuals and ensure they are treated equally and fairly throughout the donation process.
- Minimizing invasive questions. While screening questions are necessary, staff are trained to ask them in a sensitive manner that avoids making assumptions about a donor’s gender identity or transition.
- Providing private and comfortable spaces. Donors can request a private area for their donation or a staff member of their choice.
- Focusing on health, not identity. The screening process focuses on a donor’s current health and any factors that could impact plasma safety. A donor’s gender identity is irrelevant as long as they meet the necessary health criteria.
By taking these steps, donation centers aim to signal to transgender individuals that they are welcomed and valued as plasma donors. A compassionate and sensitive approach can help put transgender donors at ease and encourage them to start – and continue – giving the gift of plasma. The focus is on making the experience as positive and comfortable as possible for all donors.
1. Do donation centers accept donors who are trans?
Yes, major blood donation centers like the Red Cross accept eligible donors regardless of gender identity. Transgender donors are screened based on current health and risk factors, not gender identity.
2. Are there any restrictions for trans donors?
There are no blanket restrictions. Each trans donor is evaluated on an individual basis. Considerations may include hormone therapies, sexual history, and any other medical factors that could impact plasma safety. But transgender identity alone does not prohibit donation.
3. What health risks do donation centers consider for trans people?
Donation centers consider the same types of health risks for all donors: infections, medications, medical conditions, and lifestyle factors that could be transmitted through donated plasma. For trans donors, hormone therapies and sexual history are carefully reviewed.
4. How can a transgender person prepare for donating plasma?
Trans donors can prepare by: reviewing current medications and hormones with their doctors, practicing how to explain their hormone therapy regimen, considering any sexual risk factors honestly, and bringing ID that accurately reflects their chosen name and gender.
5. What name should I put on the donation form?
You should put the name you commonly use and prefer to be called. Donation centers want you to be comfortable, so use the name you identify with.
6. What pronoun should the staff use for me?
Let the staff know which pronoun (he/him, she/her, they/them) you prefer to use. The staff is trained to respect donors’ chosen names and pronouns.
7. Will my medical information be kept private?
Yes, all donor information is kept confidential in accordance with privacy laws. Your transgender identity and medical history will not be disclosed without your consent.