X-Factor UK judge and pop star Robbie Williams was slammed on social media after asking Felix Shepherd, a transgender contestant, his birth name before his audition this week. Asking a transgender person their birth, or “dead name”, is considered offensive because it is seen as invalidating their gender identity.
— Rae Smyth (@RaeOfSunshine58) September 8, 2018
@robbiewilliams a trans person's name is what they tell you. Asking them for their deadname is in no way appropriate, especially not on national TV. Don't be a dick next time maybe
— Apollo @ Looking for work! (@apollinares) September 9, 2018
But Shepherd, who earned a standing ovation from the audience, defended Williams in later remarks: “I was in no way offended by Robbie’s question and he did ask me if it was okay beforehand but they didn’t show that on the episode. He was extremely sensitive about it and said ‘do you mind me asking?’ It’s a shame viewers didn’t get to see that. After my audition he even came backstage and shook my hand and said another well done. He was very much on a level with me. It’s just not a common every day thing to hear about on Saturday night TV and it’s not something people have pocket knowledge about; it isn’t always in daylight for people to see. I don’t take it personally; I just know people don’t have a great understanding of it.””