Have you ever been asked a question that left you puzzled? I had that experience today when I went to give blood. The American Red Cross has been modifying the questions it asks donors, becoming more gender-neutral. Their website states, “Under the FDA’s individual donor assessment eligibility criteria, the donor history questionnaire is gender-neutral and all donors will answer the same questions regardless of gender or sexual orientation.”
In the past, there were questions specific to women, but now men are required to answer them. There are two questions regarding pregnancy, “Are you pregnant now?” and “Have you ever been pregnant.” The choices are “Yes, No, or Skip.” I quickly answered the questions, so I checked “no” to the first one, but then on the second, I checked “Skip.” In the past, they would make clear that some questions are for females, but now all questions are required without any distinction. The only logical and rational response to the question is “Skip,” or so I thought. When I arrived at the donation center, my “Skip” answer caused a red flag in the system.
- Red Cross Worker: You answered “Skip” to the question if you have ever been pregnant.
- Me: Pause and puzzled look
- Red Cross Worker: I assume you have never been pregnant, right?
- Me: Even more puzzled look, pause, and laughed, realizing, oh he was serious!
I did some research, and the American Red Cross had this information on their website:
“There are no donor eligibility criteria related to being non-binary or gender non-confirming. The Red Cross values all potential blood donors and understands that selecting either male or female may not align with how some individuals identify. The Red Cross also knows that there is a difference between biological sex and gender. Under the FDA’s individual donor assessment guidance, the donor history questionnaire is gender-neutral and all donors will answer the same questions regardless of gender. However, there are still some gender-specific eligibility criteria – such as height to weight ratio for certain donation types and iron levels – which require individuals to select either male or female on the donor history questionnaire. We understand this is not ideal for individuals who do not identify as male or female, and are committed to working with the FDA to continue to make blood donation more inclusive.”
They argue that they understand there is a difference between biological sex and gender. The next line states that there are still some “gender-specific eligibility criteria.” Therefore, they want to make a distinction between biological sex and gender identity, yet they state that there are “gender-specific criteria.” There are only two genders that you can select on the questionnaire (male or female). Therefore, the way they use gender equals biological sex. They also require gender because they have criteria based on height to weight/iron levels. Certain differences in being male and female are important to recognize from a scientific standpoint. Therefore, scientifically it is absurd to ask male donors pregnancy questions. The Red Cross understands there are particular differences in biological sex, yet, they cannot be consistent or inclusive of everyone with their basic donor questions. It seems to be that this also alienates those who do not want to identify as male or female but are required to choose an option that they do not align with. I think their statements add more confusion for donors.
Where does all this lead? It is an opportunity for Christians to argue for the goodness of God, who made people in the image of God, male and female (Genesis 1:27). Along with that is bringing the hope of the gospel to all image bearers, regardless if there is confusion over their identity. True identity and hope are found in being “in Christ.”