Beauty YouTuber Nikkie de Jager — who is also known by her 12.7 million subscribers as NikkieTutorials — is most often known for posting product reviews and special effects makeup looks. But on Monday (January 13), she posted a new kind of video on her channel. In it, she shared that she is transgender — but her decision to open up about her gender identity was impacted by someone who had threatened to out her.
“Today I am here to share something with you that I’ve always wanted to share with you one day, but under my own circumstances,” the makeup artist explained. “And it looks like that chance has been taken away from me, so today I am taking back my own power.”
“When I was younger, I was born in the wrong body, which means that I am transgender,” Nikkie continued before telling her subscribers — affectionately known as her “glow babies” — that she’s the exact same person they’ve been watching on her channel for over a decade.
The 25-year-old YouTube star shared that she began transitioning socially at the age of 6 and began taking hormones at 14; she fully completed her transition at 19, several years after first starting her channel in 2008. “I transitioned while on YouTube,” she said.
But the video also came with a direct message to those who bullied her into going public with her gender identity. “I have been blackmailed by people that wanted to leak my story to the press, and at first it was frightening,” Nikkie said toward the end of the video. “It was frightening to know that there are people out there that are so evil that they can’t respect someone’s true identity. It is vile and it is gross and I know you are watching this.”
Immediately after publishing the “freeing” and “liberating” video, fans flooded the comments with messages of love and support. Many also came through with comments condemning whoever threatened to out her before she was ready to share her story on her own terms.
While some transgender people feel comfortable sharing their gender identity with others, people are under no obligation to disclose their identities to other people, whether because they feel unsafe in doing so, they simply choose not to, or any other reason. And while Nikkie added that she had planned on coming out publicly at some point on her channel, outing (or threatening to out someone) is not only a violation of privacy — it’s also very dangerous.
Per GLAAD, “Transgender people can lose jobs, housing, friends, or even their lives when other people find out about their gender history.” Outing a member of the trans community who doesn’t want their gender identity to become public knowledge may also make the person a target for transphobic hate crimes.
With blackmail threats looming, Nikkie’s video was her way of showing the world that she wasn’t going to let transphobic people control her narrative anymore. “They said they wanted to leak it because I’m lying, or I don’t want to tell my truth, or they feel like I’m too scared for people to know who I truly am,” she said. “I’m not scared.”
To be sure, seeing the star publicly embrace who she is after all these years is something to be celebrated. It’s also something that will likely help subscribers who are also questioning or navigating their own identities.
“I am here to openly share that I am transgender, and with this message I want to inspire little Nikkies around the world who feel insecure, who feel out of place, [and] who feel misunderstood,” she said. “This world needs us. We need to accept each other, we need to respect each other, but most of all we need to hear each other and understand.”