On August 25, Tory councillor Zoe Kirk-Robinson filed a complaint with police after Labour opponent Guy Harkin, 69, called Kirk-Robinson “he” at a Bolton Council meeting. Harkin, Bolton’s former mayor, says he called Kirk-Robinson, who is transgender, “he” accidentally: “I inadvertently referred to her as a he during a heated debate,” The Telegraph reports. “As soon as I was made aware of it, I apologized,” Harkin said.
Despite the fact that Kirk-Robinson stated, “All I’m looking for is an apology and a chance to say why this is inappropriate,” the councillor reported the incident as a hate crime to both Bolton Council and to the Greater Manchester Police (GMP).
A hate crime, for the record, is a criminal offense against a person or group motivated by hatred or prejudice towards an identifiable social group. Despite the fact that women and girls are overwhelmingly the most common targets of sexual assault, and that perpetrators specifically prey on women because they are female, rape is still not considered to be a hate crime.
While Kirk-Robinson claims that it was necessary to report the incident as a hate crime in order to ensure “misgendering” isn’t “legitimized,” the 35-year-old doesn’t seem to share the same belief with regard to the use of misogynist language.
In a recent YouTube video, Kirk-Robinson, who transitioned from a man to a transwoman over 10 years ago, defends the decision to report Harkin:
“I am a Hate Crime Ambassador. I tell everyone that has issues where someone’s shouted at them in the street [with] transphobic abuse, or homophobic abuse, or racist abuse, or disablist abuse… you should report it. Because if you don’t, then the police don’t have the proper statistics on what’s going on, which means that they can’t get the funding to have officers deal with the proper crimes that are actually happening. I’ve got to stick by what I’m telling people and it really hurt a lot. The guy had no reason to suggest that I was male…
…The problem with this sort of thing is that if he’s doing it, he feels secure to do it — or he feels it’s acceptable — and that legitimizes it for other people.”
The fact that misogynist or sexist abuse was left out of Kirk-Robinson’s list of verbal abuses that should be reported to the police unfortunately doesn’t appear to be accidental, considering the councillor’s casual use of the word “bitch” to describe women.
BBC News reports that a spokesperson for the GMP said it will resolve the incident using restorative justice, adding, “Hate incidents will not be tolerated in Greater Manchester.”