Robbie Williams has angered X Factor fans after asking a transgender contestant what name he was born with.
Williams, a judge on the show, was talking to transgender singer Felix Sheperd.
The 20-year-old trans man wowed both the X Factor judges and received a standing ovation by from the audience after he performed a rendition of All I Want Is You.
But many viewers felt it was inappropriate for Williams to bring up Shepherd’s ‘dead name’, the Daily Mail reported.
The term deadnaming describes when someone – intentionally or unintentionally – brings up the name a transgender person had before they transitioned.
Many in the trans community are insulted by deadnaming, and feel referencing their dead name is redundant and akin to not recognizing their actual name or identity.
Many viewers took to Twitter to express their annoyance at Williams’ question.
‘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,’ one Twitter user wrote.
Robbie Williams asking a trans man all about his life BEFORE transitioning whilst he sits with his feet up on the desk is so gross and disrespectful. #XFactor is dead and finished.
— Jason Reid (@JasonReidUK) 8 September 2018
did Robbie Williams just ask a trans guy what his deadname was??
— lilia 203 (@whjzzerss) 8 September 2018
#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) 8 September 2018
Shepherd’s performance was a big hit with both fans and the judges on Saturday (8 September).
During his appearance, the singer talked about his reasons for going on the show and his experiences growing up.
‘I’m here to prove I’m more than just a transgender guy, and we can be overlooked. I live a normal life – I sleep in too late, I annoy my mum – I’m just an everyday sort of person,’ Shepherd said.
‘My mum paid for me to have treatment privately. I’m just blessed with the people that I have around me.’
He said that his transition had affected his voice, and he was no longer able to hit the same high notes as before. ‘Obviously, my voice has dropped, I had to adapt. Literally, in February I had a falsetto and it disappeared,’ he said.
Williams’ fellow judges, Simon Cowell, Ayda Field, and Louis Tomlinson, applauded the singer’s attitude, and noted how popular he was with the crowd. ‘Felix, you didn’t get four yeses. You got 5,000 yeses,’ Cowell told Shephard.