As transgender people’s dignity and safety continue to be threatened across the country—including in Washington State—we must be vigilant to uphold the legal protections we have fought so hard to win. That’s why I’m thrilled to give you a final update about our advocacy for Jasmine. You may recall Jasmine, who alleged that she was turned away from donating at CSL Plasma in Kent, Washington, in 2014 because she is transgender. Jasmine also alleged that she was told the company had placed a “lifetime deferment” on any donation by her. Legal Voice represented Jasmine in filing a lawsuit against CSL Plasma, which included claims alleging violation of Washington State’s Law Against Discrimination. This law prohibits places of public accommodation from discriminating based on a person’s gender identity – or in other words, it protects transgender Washingtonians against discrimination based on who they are. Last month, we received a strong pre-trial ruling in the case from Chief U.S. District Judge Ricardo Martinez in Seattle. Judge Martinez soundly rejected CSL Plasma’s arguments that federal law allows plasma centers to reject donors because they are transgender. The case was resolved by the parties a few weeks later, without a trial. While this lawsuit was pending, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) updated its blood donor recommendations in 2015. Thanks in part to our advocacy, the updated guidance provides a clearer position on transgender donors. Donation centers are now advised that they should accept a donor’s own identification of their gender. And as we have argued all along, the FDA’s updated guidance continues to provide no ban on donations based on the fact that a person is transgender. We are thrilled to have this strong decision on our side if this happens to anyone in the future. If you or someone you know has faced discrimination based on gender identity by a business or other place of public accommodation, please let us know.
Special thanks to our cooperating counsel, Isaac Ruiz, Kayti Knudsen, and Gabe Verdugo from Keller Rohrback, to our partner organization Gender Justice in Minnesota, and to Jasmine for her bravery and persistence.