A TRANSSEXUAL has been told she cannot attend women-only sessions at council leisure venues or use female changing facilities, despite her now being defined as a woman on doctors' records.

Yvonne Rhodes, 52, of Crabbs Cross, has been living as a woman since last year and will be having a sex change operation in Thailand in June.

In 2008, Yvonne, who has been with partner Sue Edge for more than 20 years, will receive her Gender Recognition Certificate and be able to legally change her birth certificate details.

Before her operation, Yvonne needs to reduce her weight or the operation may prove dangerous, which is why she has been making the most of Redditch Council's health and fitness facilities.

She said: "I was visited by a council officer as I've been using the female changing facilities.

"I have now been told I can't use them, despite the fact that on my medical records it says I'm a woman. I no longer produce testosterone and have had estrogen treatment.

"I do look manly as I am 6ft 2ins and weigh 112kgs but people should never be judged purely on the way they look.

"The council and its staff have been fantastic throughout this situation but it appears their hands are tied.'' Yvonne added: "Birmingham City Council has ruled that when a transwoman's medical records state she is a woman, she should be allowed to use female facilities like any other woman. So why can't Redditch Council?

"I've been told by my consultant that I should be interacting with women on a regular basis but I'm just not getting the chance."

A council spokesman said: "Yvonne can attend mixed sessions and use the family changing area but is unable to go to single-sex sessions and use female changing facilities at the moment because we're seeking further advice regarding the Sex Discrimination Act 1975.

"Clarification on this could take several weeks.

"We do not currently have a policy on the use of facilities by pre-op transsexuals. We'll be working up a draft policy and would welcome help from interested parties.

"We've not adopted the same strategy as Birmingham City Council because there's currently no clear legal framework on what pre-operative transsexuals can do in this situation. We'll monitor how Birmingham's policy works to see if it's something we could use.''