TRANSGENDER TORY COUNCILLOR CALLS POLICE BECAUSE OPPONENT KEEPS CALLING HER ‘HE’

Angry: Transgender Zoe Kirk-Robinson has accused the former mayor of ‘misgendering’ her after he repeatedly called her ‘he’ and ‘him’ instead of ‘she’ and ‘her’ at a meeting.
Angry: Transgender Zoe Kirk-Robinson has accused the former mayor of ‘misgendering’ her after he repeatedly called her ‘he’ and ‘him’ instead of ‘she’ and ‘her’ at a meeting.
A Tory councillor who transitioned from male to female a decade ago has complained to police after being addressed as ‘he’ by her Labour opponent.
Transgender Bolton councillor Zoe Kirk-Robinson has accused the town’s former mayor of ‘misgendering’ her after he repeatedly called her ‘he’ and ‘him’ instead of ‘she’ and ‘her’ at a meeting.
Officers are understood to be taking the allegation seriously and investigating the incident as a potential hate crime.
The comments were allegedly made by Guy Harkin at a meeting of Bolton council last week at which councillors were discussing pensions.
A 69-year-old retired lecturer, Councillor Harkin once suggested naming streets after Adolf Hitler and other notorious Nazis in a bid to sabotage a planned housing development on the greenbelt.
Councillor Kirk-Robinson, 35, claimed he repeatedly ‘misgendered’ her as part of a ‘personal attack’ during the meeting at Bolton town hall.
In a video blog, she said: ‘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 ten years ago and I have lived in Bolton for seven, going on eight years, he never met me before I transitioned.’
In a tweet after the meeting she wrote: ‘Labour Cllr Guy Harkin repeatedly misgendered me in tonight’s council meeting, while going off on a personal attack against me.’
Later she added: ‘I can’t say I’m surprised at his behaviour but I had hoped that Bolton’s leading political group wasn’t transphobic.’
Upset: Councillor Kirk-Robinson's treatment has led to the police being called in, and it will be considered as a hate crime
Upset: Councillor Kirk-Robinson’s treatment has led to the police being called in, and it will be considered as a hate crime
And in another tweet she said: ‘I will be calling on Bolton Labour Group to denounce his behaviour. Bolton does not welcome transphobia.’
Speaking afterwards she added: ‘This obviously was a shock, and not a pleasant one. I expected better of a member of the Council.
In trouble: Councillor Guy Harkin, 69, who served as the town’s mayor in 2012/13, insisted the accidental ‘slip’ happened a couple of times, not repeatedly
In trouble: Councillor Guy Harkin, 69, who served as the town’s mayor in 2012/13, insisted the accidental ‘slip’ happened a couple of times, not repeatedly
‘Bolton has a problem with hate crime and for Councillor 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.’
A writer, artist, filmmaker and game developer, Councillor Kirk-Robinson transitioned from male to female more than ten years ago.
She campaigns for equality for gay and transgender people and is a ‘hate crime ambassador’ as part of a local police-council partnership.
‘The incident has been referred to Greater Manchester Police, and therefore is now out of my hands,’ she added.
‘As a hate crime ambassador, I always urge people to report hate crime when it occurs and I will continue to do so.’
Councillor Harkin, 69, who served as the town’s mayor in 2012/13, insisted the accidental ‘slip’ happened a couple of times, not repeatedly.
He added that he had been ‘utterly unaware of the slip of the tongue’ until it was pointed out to him 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.
Officers are understood to be treating the incident as a hate crime and to have proposed a meeting between the two councillors to resolve it by ‘restorative justice’.
Bolton’s Labour group is also understood to be looking into her complaint.
Reconciliation: Bosses at Bolton town hall have proposed a meeting between the two councillors to resolve it by ‘restorative justice’
Reconciliation: Bosses at Bolton town hall have proposed a meeting between the two councillors to resolve it by ‘restorative justice’
Earlier this month the Daily Mail revealed Oxford city council was considering banning the titles Mr and Mrs because the terms are ‘not inclusive’ of transgender people and adding the gender-neutral option of Mx instead.
Guidance issued by government equalities advisers on ‘creating a transgender-friendly workplace’ says firms should give customers the option of being addressed with ‘gender neutral titles’.
It also warns of the danger of ‘misgendering’ someone by ‘using a word, especially a pronoun or a form of address, that does not correctly reflect the gender with which they identify’.
While deputy leader of the council in 1989, Councillor Harkin proposed naming streets after Nazi leaders and death camps in a bid to sabotage a Barratt Home development on greenbelt land which the authority was trying to block.
Ideas which were reportedly suggested included Hitler Avenue, Belsen Crescent and Goering Drive, but council lawyers blocked the bizarre proposal.
In the end, ministers overturned councillors’ rejection of the application to build over 300 homes and it went ahead – with inoffensive street names.
Greater Manchester Police were asked for a comment yesterday.

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