Trans X Factor Contestant Confirms He Was "Not Offended" By Robbie Williams' Deadnaming

The Take That singer attracted criticism after asking a trans contestant for his birth name at his audition on the reality TV show.

Picture of X Factor contestant Felix Shepherd singing.

X Factor Contestant Felix Shepard has defended Robbie Williams, after the Take That singer asked for the trans contestant’s birth name. The 20-year-old contestant from Birmingham told BANG Showbiz that his full interaction with Williams was not shown on the TV show and that he “felt indifferent” over the deadnaming.

Speaking to the newspaper, Shepard said: “It wasn’t shown that he did actually ask me beforehand if it was OK, but they didn’t show that on the TV.”

Shepard said: “I wasn’t offended by anything he said so that’s the most important thing. I do feel people are entitled and would feel different things about it.”


The Backlash

Felix Shepard, a 20-year-old Birmingham man auditioned in front of the judges, receiving a standing ovation from the audience for his performance of ‘All I Want’ by Kodaline. He went on to tell the panel he was studying a degree in songwriting and had auditioned “to prove to people that I’m more than just a transgender guy. We can be, kind of, overlooked, I suppose.”

With a lack of tact, Robbie asked “So when you were born, what was your name?”, deadnaming the contestant. Deadnaming is the term given when a trans person is called by their birth name when they no longer use it. Forcing Felix to announce his name previous to transitioning in front of an audience of millions can be both dangerous and demeaning.

After Shepard answered, Robbie then asked “So when did you know you were Felix?” This was, by the way, the very first thing Robbie asked the contestant.

Viewers were quick to point out how inappropriate the questions were, pointing out there was still a long way to go in terms of education about the experiences of trans people.

Although Felix himself seemed calm, and later tweeted he was not offended by the question, to normalise deadnaming on primetime television is far from acceptable.

Trans people obviously have very personal views on deadnaming, both as an action and as a concept. No matter if cis or trans, the name a person gives is the name they are and wish to be called by.

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