Plans to remove funding for sex change operations by Hounslow primary care trust have been abandoned after protests from a charity representing British transsexuals.

The PCT planned to scrap funding on the grounds that the operations are “non-essential.”

In comparison, other operations denied funding on the same grounds included tattoo removals and stomach stapling.

The Gender Trust, a charity which supports transgender people, slammed the PCT on their website for: “discriminating against transgender people within its locality, and putting medicine back thirty years in the process.”

In a extraordinary U-turn, Hounslow PCT have now claimed that the surgery was put on a list of operations losing funding as a mistake.

A spokesman said: “Gender reassignment was listed as an excluded service in error in Hounslow PCT’s consultation document.

“Hounslow PCT has no intention to discontinue the current level of service provision for gender reassignment.”

Transsexuals first won the right to have sex change operations on the NHS in 1999 after a landmark ruling by the Court of Appeal.

Three women won their case when judges decided that it was unlawful of the North West Lancashire Health Authority to deny them surgery because of higher priorities on its funds.

NHS guidelines state that gender reassignment is the only appropriate treatment for people who have been diagnosed as transsexuals.

Hounslow PCT is responsible for NHS services for three communities in West London: Hounslow, Feltham and Brentford and Chiswick Isleworth.