Transgender Tory Accuses Colleague of Hate Crime For ‘Misgendering’ Him

A Bolton councillor who transitioned from male to female ten years ago has complained to the police and Bolton Council after a fellow councillor used the pronoun “he” to refer to him.

Zoe Kirk-Robinson accused the town’s former mayor Guy Harkin of “misgendering” him repeatedly as part of a “personal attack” during a recent council meeting. Despite Cllr Harkin’s protestations that he had used the pronoun only as an accidental “slip”, Greater Manchester Police are understood to be taking the allegation very seriously and treating it as a hate crime.

Speaking to Bolton News, Cllr Kirk-Robinson said: “This obviously was a shock, and not a pleasant one. I expected better of a member of the Council.

“For someone in the highest public forum of the town to feel transphobia was acceptable is shocking — It is not acceptable in Bolton — it shouldn’t be acceptable anywhere.”

He added: “Bolton has a problem with hate crime and for Cllr Harkin to engage in a personal attack against me in this matter only serves to legitimise transphobia in the eyes of the average bigot — which makes life harder for all LGBT people.”

In a video blog, the Conservative councillor added: “If I’m truthful, it hurt a lot. The guy had no reasons to ever suggest that I was male, he has never met me as a male.

“I transitioned over 10 years ago and I have lived in Bolton for seven, going on eight years, he never met me before I transitioned.”

A campaigner for gay and transgender rights, Cllr Kirk-Robinson is a “hate crime ambassador” as part of a local police-council partnership.

Confirming that he had reported the incident, Cllr Kirk-Robinson added: “The incident has been referred to Greater Manchester Police, and therefore is now out of my hands. As a hate crime ambassador, I always urge people to report hate crime when it occurs and I will continue to do so.”

Cllr Harkin, 69, insists that the use of ‘he’ to refer to Cllr Kirk-Robinson was accidental, however, and that it was not meant as a personal attack.

Speaking to PinkNews, he said: “I was utterly unaware of this slip of the tongue until it was pointed out to me the day after the meeting.

“I offered immediately to apologise as there is not a homophobic or any kind of phobic bone in my body.”

He added: “I am told I used ‘he’ instead of the appropriate ‘she’ twice, not repeatedly, or someone would surely have raised a point of order – and I would have apologised there and then.”

According to Cllr Kirk-Robinson, Bolton Council is taking the allegation “seriously”.

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