X Factor contestant Felix Shepherd defends Robbie Williams over ‘offensive’ question

X Factor contestant Felix Shepherd has defended Robbie Williams following controversy at the weekend.

In Saturday’s episode, we met 20-year-old student Felix studying a degree in Song writing from Birmingham.

During his audition, Felix spoke about being transgender, prompting new judge Robbie to ask for his ‘birth name’.

But that question sparked anger with some viewers.

“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,” one wrote on Twitter.

Another agreed: “asking a trans guy what his birthname was is not an appropriate thing to do, it’s especially not okay when it’s the first question you ask him #XFactor”

A third posted: “Completely inappropriate to ask Felix’s previous name…. even if that question was okayed beforehand, it normalises asking a trans person about their history, which isn’t ok. #XFactor”

However Felix has defended Robbie, saying today: “People have said things which aren’t positive but as I say to them – it’s not like they’re being malicious or nasty, it is a lack of understanding.

“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 told The Sun newspaper: “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.”

Felix, who made it through to the next round, added: “I don’t take it personally; I just know people don’t have a great understanding of it.”

Felix performed a cover of Kodaline’s All I Want at the weekend’s auditions, held in front of a 4,000 strong audience at Wembley Arena.

Other acts who made it through in Saturday’s show included Natasha Boon, a 26-year-old singing Florist from Camden, London and 17-year-old Owen Matthews, aka Ozzie.

Closing the show was 17-year-old Maria Laroco from the Philippines. “Since I was a little girl I wanted to be an international superstar, I want to be big” she told the judges before belting out Prince’s Purple Rain.

The X Factor 2018 continues Saturday and Sunday night on ITV.