X Factor judges wowed by transgender singer
X Factor judges were moved as a transgender singer wowed the audience with an emotional performance.
Felix Shepherd, a 20-year-old songwriting student, claimed four yeses from Simon Cowell and company with a rendition of Kodaline’s All I Want.
The competition hopeful from Birmingham announced that he had been born Emily, and had undergone private treatment paid for by his mother.
He revealed to judges that the transition from Emily to Felix had resulted in his voice dropping lower, but told the panel he was “an everyday person”.
Shepherd, who received an ovation from the Wembley audience, said: “I’m more than just a transgender guy.
“We can be kind of overlooked I suppose. I live a normal life. I’m an everyday kind of person.
“My name was Emily. I was in Year 9 at school and didn’t really know who I was.
“My mum paid for me to have treatment privately. I’m just blessed with the people that I have around me.”
The singer also said that his voice used to be a falsetto, before dropping lower with treatment to transition.
His cover impressed judges, as did his “great attitude”, according to Cowell, as he told the live audience about his transition.
Robbie Williams, Ayda Field and Louis Tomlinson joined in the applause of the audience.
Cowell said of the audience response: “Felix, you didn’t get four yeses. You got 5,000 yeses.”
Williams added to the X Factor hopeful: “Your journey so far in life is fascinating.”
Representatives for the show have said that Shepherd is not the programme’s first transgender contestant.
He went through with the approval of all four judges, as did teenage duo Aaliyah Robinson, 14, and Acacia K, 15, who were brought together by some impromptu plotting by Cowell.
Given just an hour to prepare a duet, the teenagers sealed their place in the next round with a performance of Bang Bang by Jessie J, Ariana Grande and Nicki Minaj.
Looking to make a similar impact to 4th Impact, 17-year-old student and fellow Filipino Maria Laroco received a standing ovation for her powerful performance of Prince’s Purple Rain.
Ivo Dimchev got the approval of three X Factor judges, although Tomlinson was not convinced, calling the act “a bit too weird for me”, after the moustachioed Bulgarian sang a high-pitched original number.