If I’m Intersex

Canadian Blood Services does not have a formal policy about how to register and screen intersex donors. Canadian Blood Services’ practices are currently binary based, which is very problematic. The screening practices are harmful. We want to caution that reading the following may be upsetting.  We are describing them here for people who want more information, so that you can make an informed decision about what your experience will look like before you go in to donate.

There are two steps where gender is asked about:

  1. Registration: The donor would be registered in a male or female gender – right now there are no other options in Canadian Blood Services’ computer system (completely ridiculous). The staff would register you based on the gender listed on your driver’s license or other ID. If your gender is not on the binary (man/woman), you, unfortunately, must still register in a binary gender.
  2.  Screening: Generally speaking, donors are only asked about gender. However, if you identify outside the binary (man/woman), the staff may ask for your sex assigned at birth. The screening staff at the donor centre have to follow the rules that are outlined in their manual.

Canadian Blood Services does not have an official policy for screening intersex folks. Intersex folks with a binary gender will be registered in their gender. For intersex folks with a gender outside the binary, the screener will follow a process called a “medical enquiry”. This process can be a bit complicated, and may be a bit different for each person. Generally what happens is this: the screening staff will call a CBS doctor who is on-call to determine how to register the donor. If the on-call doctor can not be reached, the donor is deferred temporarily until a CBS doctor can determine how to register the donor. We recognize how incredibly paternalistic this is. CBS is working on changes in consultation with trans and non-binary community members as well as the registration software owner to improve this registration and screening process.