X Factor Judge Robbie Williams has caused controversy this weekend after demanding to know the birth name of a transgender contestant.
20 year old contestant Felix Sheppard took to the stage to sing a rendition of the Kodaline hit All I Want. Giving some background about himself, Felix explained: “I’m from Birmingham. I’m currently studying a degree in song writing and I’m loving every second of it.”
His conversation with Robbie on the stage prior to his performance left many viewers angry as he asked Felix about the name that he used to have. Speaking to the panel and the audience, Felix said that he wanted to ‘prove to people that I’m more than just a transgender guy. We can be overlooked.’
Transgender Felix is put on the spot
Robbie began to question Felix’s past by asking: ‘So when you were born, what was your name?’ Felix answered the singers question saying that his birth name was ‘Emily.’ Viewers have commented that it was inappropriate for the singer to ask this as it refers to someone that he used to be.
Looking bemused, The Take That Star then asked ‘When did you know you were Felix?’
Explaining the moment he ‘knew he was Felix’, the contestant explained: ‘In about year nine at school, I told one of my friends that I didn’t really know what it all was. ‘It was that point where I was like, for myself more than anything, I was like, “I’ve got to kind of be who I am” and tell people.’
This received a huge applause from the audience and the judges, including Robbie.
Felix went on to talk about how his family and friends have supported him and that his mother ‘paid for him to have treatment privately. I’m just blessed to have these people around me.’
Simon responded by saying: ‘Good for you’ before Felix sang his chosen song.
Judges are unanimous in praise of Felix’s performance
The 20 year old Birmingham born contester wowed the judges and received a ‘yes’ response from all four judges. Simon Cowell said of the audience response: “Felix, you didn’t get four yeses. You got 5,000 yeses.”
Felix sang Kodaline’s emotional hit All I Want for his audition, explaining that he picked the song because it’s the first tune he ever performed live aged 13.
The contestant left the judges blown away, with Louis Tomlinson gushing about Felix’s performance: ‘As a recording artist the tone you have is amazing.’
Simon Cowell added: ‘You have a great voice, and even when you messed up the notes because I think you became emotional it made me like you more.’
Felix explained: ‘It’s difficult because if I played my voice back in February I had a falsetto that has now disappeared.
Robbie attempted to put him at ease: ‘Felix, don’t worry about it. You killed the vocal, your journey so far in life is fascinating and I want to see where the rest of it takes you.’
Fans slam Robbie on Twitter for being ignorant in dead naming
Dead naming is naming a transgender person by the name they had before they transitioned – whether intentionally or unintentionally – rather than their actual name, and can be seen as invalidating their identity.
Outraged viewers took to Twitter to slam the ‘shameful’ 44-year-old new judge for asking the ‘inappropriate’ question in front of the audience, raging that it was ‘none of his business’.
One tweeter wasn’t impressed with Robbie’s ‘disrespectful’ comments and behaviour as he sat with his feet up:
Robbie Williams asking a trans man all about his life BEFORE transitioning while he sits with his feet up on the desk is so gross and disrespectful # X Factor is dead and finished.
Another tweet stated that Robbie’s asking him to dead name himself was ‘shameful.’
@TheXFactor Robbie, what the hell are you playing at asking a trans guy what his name used to be????? Shameful asking him to dead name himself in front of thousands of people on prime time tv…. you’re in my bad books buddy.
Matthew@DigitalOutcry agrees with a previous tweet about Robbie’s comment being ‘ignorant.’ He goes on to state a point that finding out a transgender’s birth name is irrelevant:
‘It’s also irrelevant information. It benefits precisely no one to know that information. Robbie thought perhaps that he was showing an interest but if so he misjudged it.
‘Robbie didn’t mean any harm,’ say some tweeters
Not everyone is on the warpath for Robbie over his comments. A number of viewers flocked to the 44 year old singer’s defence, claiming Felix was open about his backstory. One tweeter suggested that it may have been done with good intentions stating that he would have been told to ask about his transgender in order to promote his backstory.
‘Oh leave Robbie alone. He will have been told to ask so that they could promote the backstory of Felix,’ one fan wrote.
Another agreed: ‘If Felix wants to be open and bring up his choices in his audition, there’s nothing wrong with Robbie asking questions, #xfactor ps. His voice was beautiful.’
Another tweeter defending Williams believes that the question was bore out of curiousity about his before life:
Your past is still your past. If someone asked your maiden name it wouldn’t be an issue. People are always going to be curious unfortuantely. Felix seemed quite open about it though. Plus he was amazing!