A Tory councillor who transitioned from male to female a decade ago has accused a Labour opponent of misgendering and filed a complaint with police after he called her he.
Zoe Kirk-Robinson, 35, said Bolton’s former mayor Guy Harkin is guilty of a hate crime after he repeatedly addressed her as he and him instead of she and her at a recent meeting.
Cllr Harkin, 69, a retired senior management lecturer who served as the town’s mayor in 2012/13, insists it was a slip of the tongue and said it happened a couple of times, not repeatedly.
But Cllr Kirk-Robinson, a prominent LGBT campaigner has now reported him to Bolton Council and Greater Manchester Police.
The comments were allegedly made at a meeting of Bolton council last week at which councillors were discussing pensions.
Ms Kirk-Robinson claims Mr Harkin 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 reason 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 will be calling on Bolton Labour Group to denounce his behaviour. Bolton does not welcome transphobia.”
Cllr. Kirk-Robinson, a writer, filmmaker and game developer who represents Westhoughton North and Chew Moor, said: “This obviously was a shock, and not a pleasant one. I expected better of a member of the Council.
“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
Cllr. Harkin said he was “utterly unaware of the slip of the tongue” until it was pointed out to him the day after the meeting.
He added: “I offered immediately to apologise as there is not a homophobic or any kind of phobic bone in my body.”
Greater Manchester Police have been contacted for a comment.
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