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Beauty YouTube star NikkieTutorials comes out as trans in a powerful video

Nikkie de Jager says someone tried to blackmail her by outing her. She stood up for herself with an announcement she hopes will help other trans people.

Alex Abad-Santos is a senior correspondent who explains what society obsesses over, from Marvel and movies to fitness and skin care. He came to Vox in 2014. Prior to that, he worked at the Atlantic.

Nikkie de Jager, better known as beauty YouTuber and makeup artist NikkieTutorials, has come out as a transgender woman in a video posted Monday to her 12 million-plus YouTube subscribers.

“I hope that me standing up and being free, it inspires you to do the same” Nikkie says in the 17-minute video. “To truly live your life like you want it and the way you deserve it.”

Nikkie is one of the most popular and prolific beauty YouTubers in the world. She started posting on the platform in 2008; since then, she has worked as an adviser to Marc Jacobs Beauty and collaborated with Maybelline, among other accomplishments. She has essentially grown up on YouTube, and she has influenced the way many consumers and her fans think about beauty, the beauty industry, and specific products and trends.

The reason she came out at this moment, Nikkie says, was to stand up for herself and the transgender community in the face of someone blackmailing her by threatening to out her in a leak to the press. Nikkie explains in her video that she started wearing girls’ clothes at age 7 or 8, began hormone therapy at age 14, and “fully transitioned” at age 19.

To Nikkie, who is now 25, that was the end of the pre-transition chapter of her life, until the threats of “leaking” prompted her to come out publicly. She did not disclose when the threats began, who made them, or any specific details of the situation, but said she was starting this new year by coming out.

“At first it was frightening to know that there are people out there that are so evil that they can’t respect someone’s true identity,” Nikkie says. “It is vile and it gross … they said they wanted to leak it because I’m lying or that I don’t want to tell my truth or that I’m too scared to tell people who I truly am.”

The mentality of Nikkie’s blackmailer fits a larger pattern of anti-trans behavior and myths about how trans men and women want to “trick” people regarding their gender. These myths and stereotypes help to fuel the discrimination and violence that trans people often face.

It’s powerful that a person with as large a following as Nikkie is confronting this harmful behavior head-on in the name of dispelling dangerous ideas about trans identity. Because she is such a well-known figure in the beauty world and on YouTube, Nikkie is in a rare position to use her voice and platform to spread awareness of the discrimination that trans people face in society.

“At the end of the day, my story is beautiful,” Nikkie says in the video, choking up while explaining how beauty and YouTube have often given her a means of escape. “All I know is that I haven’t changed.”

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