Transgender Tory Councillor Zoe Kirk-Robinson has reported fellow politician Guy Harkin to police following him referring to her with male pronouns twice during a council meeting.
Ms Kirk-Robinson attended a council meeting on August 24th, where she delivered a speech to the assembled representatives. She reports that after her speech Labour Councillor Guy Harkin became visibly upset and launched into an angry rebuttal.
Zoe told journalists, ‘During his rant, he repeatedly misgendered me, referring to me as ‘he’ and ‘him’ numerous times; which stunned the room into silence. The tirade was clearly meant to not just insult but injure, and I can tell you that he did, sadly, hit the mark on that one.
‘It hurt a lot, the guy had no reason to suggest that I was male, he’s never met me as male, I transitioned over ten years ago. I’ve lived in Bolton for eight years. He never met me before transition.’
Greater Manchester Police have confirmed that Zoe has filed a complaint regarding the incident and that they will be looking to speak to Mr Harkin.
‘It’s offensive. Police are looking into it and will speak to him and settle it with restorative justice,’ Zoe said. ‘He will sit in a room with me and listen to why it’s wrong.
‘The thing is, we were all shocked by it. There have been complaints from the Labour Councillors, it shocked everyone. He shouldn’t have done it. I’m a crime ambassador for the council, I tell each person to report it so that they know how much is happening.
‘If he feels comfortable doing this at the highest level in town, it’s going to set a precedent for people of the town. There is a huge problem with transphobia in Bolton, it legitimates it for all of the other people.’
Speaking on the issue Mr Harkin has said that ‘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.
‘I am told that I used ‘he’ instead of the appropriate ‘she’ twice, not repeatedly, or someone would have surely have raised a point of order – and I would have apologised there and then.’
Mr Harkin, who has in the past come under criticism for suggesting naming streets after Adolf Hitler and other high ranking Nazis in a bid to sabotage housing development, has tried to deflect anger by saying that one of his oldest friends is transgender author Roz Kaveney.
Despite Harkin claiming that he has heard nothing from police regarding the incident both Zoe Kirk-Robinson and a spokesperson for Greater Manchester Police have said that the incident is being taken seriously and that enquiries are ongoing.
After reporting Cllr Harkin to Greater Manchester Police, officers downgraded it to a ‘hate incident’ rather than a ‘hate crime’ and advised the pair to talk it out through a restorative justice programme.
But the former Labour mayor has refused his punishment, maintaining that his comments were just a ‘slip of the tongue.’
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