A Florida-based plasma company has been accused for the second time of rejecting a Minnesota donor due to gender identity, prompting the state Department of Human Rights to escalate an ongoing lawsuit against the chain.
The state announced Thursday that it amended its original lawsuit against CSL Plasma based on the experience of an individual named Charlie Edgar, who reported being denied the opportunity to give plasma due to a gender identity of nonbinary. The state's original suit was filed in March after CSL was accused of rejecting a donor named Alice James, a transgender woman; it demanded that the company adopt policies to prevent discrimination.
Now the state wants CSL to financially compensate all potential donors it turned away due to gender identity, said Irina Vaynerman, Minnesota's deputy commissioner of human rights.
While the company pledged earlier this year to improve its policies, "this additional instance … is proof that CSL Plasma either hasn't changed its policies or is failing to implement them lawfully," Vaynerman said.
Calls to CSL's spokesperson in Boca Raton, Fla., were not returned Thursday. State officials said the second allegation is damning because Edgar was told that the denial decision was made by a local manager and then affirmed by two supervisors up the chain of command at CSL, one of the world's largest plasma collection agencies.
"CSL Plasma reported that this decision came from … the highest levels of their corporation," Vaynerman said.
While people who give plasma are often called donors, companies such as CSL compensate them with as much as $400 per month. Donated plasma — the clear liquid portion of blood — is used in a variety of surgeries and medical treatments and in the development of new therapies.
Edgar, who was assigned the female gender at birth but is nonbinary now, reported being "hurt and embarrassed" after being denied by CSL Plasma in September.
"I am disheartened," Edgar said, "that I have to fight to be seen as a human being."
Edgar and James are also plaintiffs in the state's case against CSL. James had acceded to the company's gender ID demand and had been donating as a male in Duluth from 2011 until 2015, when James insisted that CSL recognize her female identity, according to their court complaint.
Edgar had agreed to answer all screening questions for males and females to ensure that donation would be safe.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration advises collection centers to allow blood-product donors to self-identify their gender and says transgender identity in and of itself is not a reason to rule out donation.