Thomas Leavitt, a longtime bi organizer in Santa Cruz, CA who hosts BiFriendly and is the co-chair of the GLBT Alliance of Santa Cruz County, wrote us about the problematic language in the recent revision to the FDA's ban on blood donations from men who have sex with men. Thomas went directly to the FDA website to submit a comment suggesting new language that does less harm to bisexual community members and their partners.
Thomas Leavitt's public comment at the FDA site:
While this recommendation represents progress of a sort, by lifting the "lifetime ban" on donation of blood by men who have had sex with men anytime since 1977, it doesn't resolve the basic absurdity of the existing "status based" ban on blood donations, and in fact, perpetuates the "lifetime" status of bisexual men as deferral triggers. Asking gay and bisexual men to not have sex with men for a year (including partners with whom they have a monogamous relationship), and asking the female partners of bisexual men to defer donating blood for a year after having sex with them, no matter how many years it has been since their partner has had sex with a man, is not fair, not reasonable, and not based on actual risk to the blood supply, but rather solely on their status as men who have sex with men, and as female partners of such men.
The absurdity of this policy is demonstrable by (a) the fact that married and monogamous gay or bisexual men in same-sex relationships trigger an immediate 12 month deferral period the moment they have sex with each other, even if they've been monogamous for the past decade plus, and (b) the fact that, should a bisexual man have sex with the male half of a male/female couple, he immediately triggers a 12 month deferral period for himself, the male half of the couple, and the female half of the couple the moment she has sex with her male partner... but should he have sex with the female half of a male/female couple, he triggers a deferral period for her, but not her male partner (even if her male partner has sex with her), or for himself. Under this scenario, FDA policy would result in the absurd situation of the woman being ineligible to donate blood, while both of her male partners remain eligible. How any of this makes sense to the FDA, or any rational individual, is beyond me.