Trans-woman prevented from donating blood in Kolkata

The woman health worker argued that medical guidelines do not allow transgender persons, who are often on hormonal treatment, to donate blood.
Image used for representational purpose only. (File Photo)
Image used for representational purpose only. (File Photo)

KOLKATA: A transgender woman was prevented from donating blood at a donation camp by a state government health worker on gender identity grounds.

The health worker finally agreed to allow the trans-woman to donate the blood following objections by the organisers and Queer-rights activists. But the health worker's approval came with weird interpretations of the sexual orientation of transgender persons and why they are medically risky of being allowed to donate blood.

Speaking to IANS, noted city-based transgender rights activist and popular elocutionist Anurag Maitrayee, who raised the voice of protest after the trans-woman was prevented from donating blood, said that the event happened at a blood-donation camp in the city on August 6 which was organised by an NGO Manusher Pashe Thakar Angikar (Promise to stand by people).

“I was a guest speaker on the occasion. While the blood donation process was on suddenly it was brought to our notice that a state government health worker prevented a trans-woman from donating blood on gender identity grounds. The woman health worker argued that medical guidelines do not allow transgender persons, who are often on hormonal treatment, to donate blood.

"I and the NGO secretary Biswajit Saha immediately intervened and demanded a copy of the specific guideline that prevents transgender persons from donating blood. Unable to furnish that guideline document or logically present a counter-argument, the health workers ultimately had to allow the transgender persons assembled there to donate blood. But her approval came with lots of weird observations on the sexual orientation of transgender persons,” Maitrayee said.

Saha said that the development was most unfortunate since before the blood donation camp started he had sensitised the health workers about the participation of trans persons in the camp.

Another transgender activist and former member of the West Bengal Transgender Development Board Aparna Banerjee told IANS that it is most unfortunate that despite anti-discriminatory orders from the Supreme Court of India, proper sensitisation of the government functionary is yet to be achieved.

“We have already sent a representation to the state government in the matter," Banerjee said.

According to the general secretary of the Association for Protection of Democratic Rights (APDR) Ranjit Sur told IANS that this a serious case of human rights violation where a person is prevented from performing a social duty on grounds of gender-identity of that person. “When such discriminatory action comes from a government employee, who is associated with the critical sector of healthcare, the matter becomes even more serious,” he said.

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