X Factor dead-naming of contestant defended

The X Factor contestant Felix Shepherd has come to the support of Robbie Williams, after the judge was widely criticised for dead-naming him.

It happened when Felix was on stage in the new series of the show, introducing himself as a 20 year old student of song-writing.

“I’m here today to kind of prove people that I’m more than just a transgender guy,” he said, to loud applause from the audience.

Felix Shepherd


Robbie Williams applauded and seemed supportive. Then the first we heard him speak to Felix was to ask for his dead-name.

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

Felix answered without complaint, but viewers took to Twitter to say how angry they were that Robbie had asked.


Lucy Wright tweeted at Robbie “it is never okay to ask a trans person what their dead name is, let alone on national tv. I think you owe an apology to Felix for that pal :/ “

“Has No-one told Robbie Williams it’s considered pretty darn rude to ask someone’s birth name?” asked student Alex Station. “That’s quite an on-the-spot situation to be put in, having to explain oneself”.

@digitalxwitness said “asking for a trans person’s dead name is probably the number one sin you should never commit when talking to a trans person, quite frankly”.

But, Ollie Roffey thought it had probably been agreed in advance. “As a trans guy myself, I get where you’re coming from. But xfactor and what they say is a script, anything like that he would’ve known was coming and even agreed to being asked”.


The dead-name question is at 2’57” on this video from the programme:


Later Felix went online to say he had not been upset, tweeting: 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”.

Others told Felix that even if he was ok about it they thought it was wrong, because it went the message that it’s the right way to speak to transgendered people.

when did you know you were Felix?

On the show it was Felix who first introduced that fact that he is a trans man. Robbie’s second question was “so, when did you know you were Felix”.

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 else – I’ve got to be who I am and tell people”.

Robbie was seen applauding, and the crowd cheered.

Robbie Williams


Felix told them that he has a lot of support from family and friends “my mum paid for me to have treatment privately. I’m blessed with the people I have around me”. The audience cheered, and Simon Cowell said “good for you. You’ve got a great attitude”.

The performance Felix gave in his audition went down well, the audience took to their feet, and the judges gave him four yeses.

“Felix I think that was a brilliant, brilliant audition”, judge Louis Tomlinson said. “The tone that you have, and the tone that you would have on track, would be amazing. I’m confident of that”.


Felix was worried that he hadn’t yet fully learned how to use his new, deeper voice that came with transition. He felt he’d had problems with parts of the song.

“It’s difficult,” he explained. “If I played my voice back, like literally in February, I had a falsetto that has disappeared.”

But Robbie quickly reassures him, and adds: “Your journey so far in life is fascinating and I for one want to see where the rest of this journey is going to take you. It’s a massive yes from me Felix”.


  What did you make of the question? Is it ever ok to ask a trans person for their dead-name?    


Picture Credits: Robbie Williams and Felix Shepherd comp, ITV pics (comp by Transnews). Felix Shepherd singing, ITV. X factor Video, ITV X Factor off YouTube. Robbie Williams, ITV.


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