X Factor judge Robbie Williams has been taken to task for a remark he made while judging a trans contestant on the show over the weekend. Twenty-year-old contestant Felix Shepherd took to the stage on the Saturday night broadcast of the longstanding reality competition, performing a rendition of Kodaline’s “All I Want” to rousing applause. But the interaction between Shepherd and the pop star beforehand proved to be troubling to some X Factor viewers.
“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 after introducing himself to the judges. “I’m just an everyday kind of person.”
“So, when you were born, what was your name?” asked the onetime Take That frontman, going on to later ask the contestant when he knew his identity.
Some viewers took the questioning as an invasion of privacy, while others were offended that the X Factor judge forced a contestant to reveal his birth name — also known as “deadnaming” — on national television. “has No-one told Robbie Williams it’s considered pretty darn rude to ask someone’s birth name? That’s quite an on-the-spot situation to be put in, having to explain oneself,” remarked one Twitter user.
#XFactor okay so Felix is lovely and I’m really proud to see another trans person on the TV, but has No-one told Robbie Williams it’s considered pretty darn rude to ask someone’s birth name? That’s quite an on-the-spot situation to be put in, having to explain oneself.
— Alexandra (@alex_staddon) September 8, 2018
Shepherd took no offense to the question, according to a tweet after the episode aired. “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.”
Read Shepherd’s tweet below:
I just wanted to say that I was in no way offended by Robbie’s question but, I do realise everyone is different!
Thanks for all the support —
— Felix Shepherd (@felixjshepherd) September 9, 2018