Sperm banks face an uphill battle trying to get men of color, especially Black men, to donate sperm. Black sperm donors represent less than 2 percent of all sperm donors at the country’s four largest cryobanks, but that doesn’t stop Black men — especially gay men — from getting rejected.
The Washington Post recently delved into a story about TreVaughn Roach-Carter, who was rejected by the FDA at the Sperm Bank of California for checking a box for being gay. Regulations for sperm donation state that donations from men who have had sex with men in the past five years are prohibited.
As someone who wanted to help other LGBTQ+ couples trying to build a family, Roach-Carter said, “I know that when the time comes for me to have children, it will be a lengthy, stressful and also probably expensive process. And I wanted to help make things as easy for other people as possible who would be going through similar things.”
According to Jaime Shamonki, the chief medical officer at the California Cryobank, the country’s largest, only around 1 percent of applicants actually make it through the highly selective process.
The detailed process covers men between ages 18 and 39, who must be at least 5-foot-7, and favors donors with higher education.
While the FDA has lifted some restrictions over the past two decades, the ban on gay men has remained in place since 2005. The decision is based solely on the data from the 1980s and early 90s at the height of the AIDS epidemic.
Even though the sperm is quarantined for six months and tested for HIV before being released into the cryobanks for purchase, the FDA has no immediate plans to end the ban.