Robbie Williams, ‘X Factor’ judge, criticized for asking transgender contestant’s ‘birth name’

Robbie Williams during The X Factor 2018 launch at Somerset House on July 17, 2018 in London, England. John Phillips/Getty Images

X Factor judge Robbie Williams is under fire from viewers for his “inappropriate” question, when he asked transgender contestant Felix Shepherd what his name had been before he had transitioned.

Shepherd took the stage on Saturday evening to perform a rendition of Kodaline’s All I Want but the interaction between the pair before the performance had many people talking on social media.

“I’m here to prove people that I’m more than just a transgender guy and we can be kind of overlooked, I suppose,” Shepherd said to the judges. “I’m just an everyday kind of person.”

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“So, when you were born, what was your name?” Williams asked.

“My name was Emily,” Shepherd responded.

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“So when did you know you were Felix?” Williams asked.

Shepherd explained he knew around the age of 14 or 15.

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Some viewers were offended by the judge making the contestant reveal his birth name — also known as “deadnaming,” which is the act of referring to a transgender person’s birth name instead of their chosen name.

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Shepherd also took to social media to discuss the situation. He said he was “in no way offended by Robbie’s question.”

“I just wanted to say that I was in no way offended by Robbie’s question but, I do realise everyone is different!” Shepherd tweeted on Sunday. “Thanks for all the support,” he wrote in a tweet after the episode aired.

The 20-year-old singer also spoke about the situation, saying “I wasn’t offended by anything he said, so that’s the most important thing.”

He continued: “I do feel people are entitled and would feel different ways about it. It wasn’t shown that he did actually ask me beforehand if it was OK, but they didn’t show that on the TV.”

Williams has not addressed the exchange publicly since the episode aired.


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