Robbie Williams Sparks Outrage With Controversial Question To X Factor Contestant

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Robbie Williams X FactorITV

The X Factor is back, with its montages of singers, and Simon Cowell saying ‘I didn’t like it. I loved it’, you usually know what you’re getting, but this year, Robbie Williams has caused some uproar with a controversial question. 

The singing competition was back on our screens last weekend (September 1), with an array of acts hoping to wow the judges.

On last night’s show though (September 8), one of the hopefuls was Felix Shepherd, who took to the stage to sing Kodaline’s All I Want.

Take a look at his appearance on the show here:

20-year-old Felix is transgender, and introducing himself to the audience he told his story, explaining:

I’m from Birmingham. I’m currently studying a degree in songwriting and I’m loving every second of it.

I’m kind of here today to prove to people that I’m more than just a transgender guy. We can be, kind of, overlooked, I suppose.

Felix Shepherd X FactorITV

Angels singer Robbie then asked the question, which caused a lot of outrage with viewers:

So when you were born, what was your name?

Felix answered:

My name was Emily.

The judge continued to delve into the contestant’s life, asking when he knew he was transgender.

Felix Shepherd X FactorITV

Felix 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.

Robbie applauded the student’s story, but the question about his former name was met with a lot of angry responses from viewers.

Robbie Williams X FactorITV

One viewer tweeted:

#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? [sic]

That’s quite an on-the-spot situation to be put in, having to explain oneself.

Another added:

Why did Robbie Williams ask for Felix’s birth name. How is that relevant to how well he sings? Isn’t that just a bit rude. [sic]

Felix Shepherd X FactorITV

A third angry viewer responded:

robbie is so ignorant and i am livid there was really no reason he had to ask that i mean felix was brave enough to share that much information as it is their birth name has no relevance to their talent or who they are as a person so @robbiewilliams please educate yourself [sic]

Other viewers stuck up for the star, suggesting Felix might not have found the question inappropriate.

One person wrote:

I wouldn’t have known otherwise. I got the feeling Felix was comfortable mentioning his past name which would draw the question.

Might be “dead-naming” should be treated as a case by case thing rather than a blanket ban entirely? [sic]

After his questioning, Felix went on to blow the audience away with his rendition of All I Want, receiving a standing ovation for his performance and enthusiastic support from all four judges.

Good luck with the rest of the competition Felix!

If you have a story you want to tell, send it to [email protected] 


Emily Brown

Emily Brown

Emily Brown first began delivering important news stories aged just 13, when she launched her career with a paper round. She graduated with a BA Hons in English Language in the Media from Lancaster University, and went on to become a freelance writer and blogger. Emily contributed to The Sunday Times Travel Magazine and Student Problems before becoming a journalist at UNILAD, where she works on breaking news as well as longer form features.