Transgender woman accuses plasma donation center of discrimination

Nicole Throckmorton claims she was denied because she's transgender

By Garrett Brnger - Reporter

SAN ANTONIO - A transgender woman claims a local plasma donation center violated the city's nondiscrimination ordinance by deferring her because of her gender identity.

Nicole Throckmorton, 33, said she tried to donate plasma at the Biotest Plasma Center at N.W. Loop 410 and San Pedro Avenue in August. 

Throckmorton said an employee told her it was the center's policy to permanently deny transgender women from donating.

Throckmorton filed a complaint with the city's Office of Equity on Wednesday through her attorney, alleging discrimination. The city's nondiscrimination ordinance, commonly known as NDO, was passed in 2013 and forbids discrimination based on gender identity in "places of public accommodation." 

A city spokeswoman said Thursday the city attorney's office was reviewing the complaint for its applicability to the NDO.

"This is clear-cut. So if the city wants to prove that it's serious about the nondiscrimination ordinance, it's going to take this case to the fullest extent of the law," said Justin Nichols, Throckmorton's attorney.

Throckmorton said she was unemployed at the time and went to the plasma donation center, which pays its donors, in hopes of earning some money. She said she went through some screening measures, but she ran into a problem when she asked an employee whether the hormone replacement therapy she hoped to undergo would be an issue. 

"That's when she told me that they have a policy," Throckmorton said. "Their standard operating policy is to defer all trans woman ... permanently."

In the complaint, Nichols included a letter he received from the general counsel of Biotest Pharmaceuticals Corporation, which runs the plasma donation center, saying they were investigating the matter. Nichols said the company has not confirmed or denied to him whether it has such a policy.

"I think Biotest absolutely has a policy," he said. "I don't think it's a policy that they're proud of, but I think it's one that they put into practice, and hopefully we're going to get that changed."

Nichols wrote in the complaint that Throckmorton "was denied the opportunity to donate plasma solely on the basis of being transgender."

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration currently recommends deferring blood donations for men who have had sex with other men in the past year, but Throckmorton said she doesn't sleep with men.

In any case, the FDA also recommends donors be allowed to self-identify their gender for blood donation, which for Throckmorton would be as a woman, not as a man.

"I asked if I could go in as a woman and they said you had to go in with your birth sex," Throckmorton said. 

"Nothing that I've heard about this case demonstrates that Biotest had any legitimate reason to decline Ms. Throckmorton's offer to donate plasma," Nichols said.

Throckmorton said she isn't looking for a settlement. She said she just wants to be able to donate and to have the policy, if there is one, overturned.

"I don't want anyone to feel like I did," Throckmorton said.

A phone call and email to Biotest Pharmaceutical Corporation's general counsel were not returned to KSAT 12 News. 

Nicole Thorckmorton Complaint to City by David Ibanez on Scribd

Copyright 2018 by KSAT - All rights reserved.