Transgender Tory councillor reports Labour opponent to the police for ‘misgendering’

Image: Zoe Kirk-Robinson's Twitter page
Image: Zoe Kirk-Robinson’s Twitter page

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.

Zoe Kirk Robinson


Zoe Kirk-Robinson

Kirk-Robinson previously accused a stationary shop employee of “transphobic abuse” after referring to the councillor’s wife, who is also transgender, as “sir.”

Zoe Kirk-Williams and wife, Jennifer Kirk
Zoe Kirk-Robinson and wife, Jennifer Kirk (Image:

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.”

Meghan Murphy
Meghan Murphy

Founder & Editor

Meghan Murphy is a freelance writer and journalist. She has been podcasting and writing about feminism since 2010 and has published work in numerous national and international publications, including New Statesman, Vice, Al Jazeera, The Globe and Mail, I-D, Truthdig, and more. Meghan completed a Masters degree in the department of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies at Simon Fraser University in 2012 and lives in Vancouver, B.C. with her dog.

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  • jdndcus

    Seriously though, why are they always “Zoe”?

    • Morag999

      Perhaps because it’s a suitable name for a Manic Pixie Dream Girl type, which many of these grown men aspire to become.

      • TrannysaurusLEX

        I nearly pissed myself when I read this. Ive actually had other trans people i’ve met describe themselves as “Manic Pixie Dream Girl type” also the always hysterical, they are “Lesbians trapped in a mans body”

  • Helen A. Handbasket

    Calling a biological man in a dress “he”? Hate crime!

    Butchering, raping, silencing, and beating down biological girls and women? Just another sick, sad day in this world of ours…

  • k.f. morton

    Typically male behaviour. ..has no problem with using the word bitch but dare to cause him offense and….

  • Morag999

    When Guy Harkin was pressured to apologize for referring to Zoe Kirk-Robinson as a “he,” he should’ve said: “Sorry about that, ya bitch.”

    Because, according to Zoe himself, calling women bitches is not hateful, but perfectly fine. He might, in fact, find that misogynist slurs have a validating effect on his core, feminine identity!

    • TrannysaurusLEX

      This, was, AWESOME!!! made my day!

  • TheArtistFormerlyKnownAsYoya

    Good god. I’m appalled at the way an elected public official speaks about others on twitter. Aside from the misogyny aspect.

    The other councillor no doubt was trying to raise this person’s ire, but the shopkeeper? How is she supposed to know what pronoun someone prefers? For all we know she perceived this person as a man. Neither of them look like women by the photograph; they both look like men.

    How is it a crime to call a man a man, but not to call a woman a man?

  • Meghan Murphy

    Making Zoe’s statement saying,”The guy had no reason to suggest that I was male” all the stranger… I mean, Zoe *is* male, but is a transwoman and prefers “she’.

    I mean, either way, this couldn’t possible construe a hate crime — calling a person “he” instead of she is not a crime, never mind a “hate crime.”

    An ex-boyfriend of mine was quite thin and had longish hair (for a man — that hipster/70s throwback style, you know) and TWICE when I was with him, a waitress referred to him accidentally with female pronouns, having only seen him from the back, which I found endlessly amusing. I guess we shoulda called the cops on those women!

  • Hannah

    The entitlement really shows. If a woman even had the courage to speak out and advocate for rape etc becoming hate crimes, they would get torn apart. This guy says he’s a woman and gets support for something so trivial. They are male through and through.

  • Hannah

    Their names are often unusual in a way a lot of women can tell has to do with female stereotypes. Don’t know how I can explain that better.

    • TrannysaurusLEX

      I understand that it may be a valid stereotype, but theres a difference between, for instance.

      “why is Nguyen is a common vietnamese name”
      “Seriously, why are they always called Nguyen?”

      I mean, you don’t have to respect anyone, just wanted to offer that as a thought 🙂

  • Cadoogan

    Interesting. Since growing my hair out, I’ve been misgendered a few times by people viewing me from behind. Never occurred to me that it might be considered abuse or a hate crime.
    Seems to me like Kirk-Robinson is latching onto any possible excuse to be offended.

  • TheArtistFormerlyKnownAsYoya

    What? Zoe does not want to alter their appearance to “fit in” as a woman?

  • anne

    This man is extremely dangerous. I shudder to think what he will soon escalate to.

    • JingFei

      I read on his Twitter that he’s pushing for gender certificates being give out for gender by “self-declaration”. It’s frightening.

  • anne

    Let’s all call Great Manchester Police. What twats they are also…

  • Zuzanna Smith

    Any male who pretends to be female is feeding off of sex stereotypes, without sex stereotypes there would be no transladees.

    • TrannysaurusLEX

      haha true, you wont find a lot of argument from me on that one 🙂

  • Meghan Murphy

    Ha. Do you know what I mean though? All those dudes who started dressing like The Allman Brothers (who I love, ftr) a few years ago?

  • Petronella

    Please spare us the tone policing. The poster you are taking issue with was not “showing that kind of thought process.” She was making an accurate observation of reality.

    • TrannysaurusLEX

      spin it how you want it 🙂

  • anne

    I was too?

    • Laura

      hey, sorry, that wasn’t in response to you, when i submitted the comment there weren’t any visible replies

  • jdndcus

    I know you probably think you’re “one of the good ones,” but you’re doing exactly the same thing as the subject of this article whom you’re trying to position yourself as better than.

    • TrannysaurusLEX

      well you’d be wrong I don’t think i’m a good anything and i’m certainly not “better than”. you can interpret my critique of the original posters prejudice any way that suits your world view.

  • Lilian Halcombe

    Slip ups like that are quite common, especially during public speaking. During the recent Australian election campaign we had one government minister pledging his support for the opposition leader during an interview. It was good for a laugh in the media for a few days, but everyone could tell it was a mistake.

  • Laura

    Report a hate crime to the Bolton council :
    “A hate crime or incident is any incident that is perceived by the victim or any other person as being motivated by prejudice or hatred based on someone’s:…gender or gender identity…Hate incidents can take many forms, including:…verbal abuse or insults – offensive leaflets and posters, abusive gestures…
    The information you provide is extremely valuable because it helps us to build up a true picture of what is happening across Bolton, and will help us to tackle hate incidents effectively…The incident doesn’t have to have happened to you; you can also report something that has happened to someone you know.
    All information will be treated sensitively and in confidence. You can provide as little or as much information as you have or are happy to share. You also do not have to provide your personal details when you make a report. Please note: without your personal details we will be unable to pursue your individual case, or provide you with any further advice or support. Online reports will be sent to Greater Manchester Police Bolton Division. All actions are led by you. If you don’t want any action to be taken, and simply want the matter recording, that is no problem.” (from the Bolton hate crime website)

    Report a hate crime to the Greater Manchester Police via the True Vision website:
    Neither the GMP page nor the True Vision website mention hate crimes against women as a subcategory…

  • FakeFeminist

    No, I think you missed my point. Being MTF is not an intrinsic quality, and MTF identity relies on the sexist stereotyping of women. It isn’t discrimination for women to complain about a group of people who purposely conflate femininity/womanhood and encourage stereotypes. Would you get upset at a group of black rights activists who were making fun of the offensiveness of Rachel Dolezal? It’s the same thing.

    And yes, it absolutely matters to the validity of your analogy. Kicking up is not comparable to kicking down.

  • Just Passing Through

    Doesn’t surprise me at all I am sad to say. The erasure just keeps chugging right along!

  • FakeFeminist

    Males are a privileged class over females, and MTFs are a subclass of male. GNC has nothing to do with it, as GNC and trans are not the same.

    Women are getting pushed out of female, feminist, and lesbian spaces in favor of MTFs. Other spaces are being closed for not welcoming MTFs. MTFs feel comfortable stating that feminism is not “real feminism” unless it centers them personally, and they are supported in this. Males who identify, with a straight face, as “tranny cyborgs” and “heterosexual lesbians” are taken more seriously than females who say they are oppressed by the constructs of gender. Lesbians who do not want sexual contact with penises having the word “lesbian” ripped away from them by MTFs. And before you say it, “not all MTFs” is about as useful as “not all men”.

    I have read the studies on transgenderism. The information floated around mainstream trans communities is not supported by actual scientific studies. Wisdom supporting a disfavored position does not become ignorance, either.

  • CloudBrack

    Oh ffs. Please do not block hate crime reporting and response with static, trivia or spam. Lives depend on it. Ffs! In case I am not clear, if it’s not intentional harassment, and an apology was sincerely offered, don’t demand attention from everyone.

    Yes, words matter. On all sides.

    • Zuzanna Smith

      Female erasure is not static, trivia, or spam, sir.