Women In The News: Council rejects the female touch

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The Independent Online
It was a case of having a woman's touch. Sarah-Jane Brooks had that and much more. Too much more, as far as her prospective employers were concerned.

Ms Brooks, who is also known as Mr William Anthony Brooks, is a hermaphrodite. And she is set to take legal action against her local council for discrimination after they rejected her application to work at a women's centre.

Deciding which sex, Sarah or William, had been a matter of mood - until recently. But, for the past 18 months, Miss Brooks has been living as a woman and decided to apply to work at the Watford Women's Centre, having had previous experience in similar jobs at centres in London and Manchester.

However, the local council disagreed. "When I turned up they would not let me in because they said I looked too much like a man," said Ms Brooks.

"The point is that I am both a man and a woman, and they have no right to choose which sex to judge me on. I have worked at womens' centres before and I was accepted, I don't know why they have turned me down in Watford."

Ms Brooks is confident that the council is wrong. "I know the law very well in this area and I will be taking them to court over this."

But a spokesman for Watford council - who referred to Miss Brooks as a man - said: "The planning group at the Women's Centre considered this request fully. But we feel he cannot be admitted to the centre which is a focal point for the women in this town."

- Randeep Ramesh

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