"When I was younger, I was born in the wrong body, which means that I am transgender."
Dutch YouTuber Nikkie de Jager, popularly known as NikkieTutorials, publicly posted a video titled "I'm Coming Out." Her video quickly went viral globally, spreading from The Ellen Show in the U.S. to the news on Dutch television. Her coming out also elicited emails “from lawmakers that got inspired to change the world.” In just over 17 minutes, de Jager managed to inspire other “little Nikkies” finding their places in the world, along with parents supporting children who could relate to her story, and broadening the discussion of transgender rights.
Unfortunately, she did not come out completely on her own terms. After she had been blackmailed by someone who threatened to “’leak’ [her] story to the press,” she decided to take control over her story by coming out herself “under my conditions.” In a follow-up video, de Jager urged the public to leave the rest to the officials. She claims that she doesn’t wish the experience of being blackmailed on anyone, and giving the blackmailer public exposure would cause her to stoop to the level of her perpetrator.
The follow-up also indirectly addresses the extended tensions between de Jager and the cosmetic brand Too Faced that dates back to 2016. Lisa Blandino, who is known by the name Dani California on Instagram and is the sister of Too Faced’s CEO, changed her Instagram bio to read “Transgender huh? That’s not the only thing she’s been LYING [sic] about.” She quickly changed her bio to read “Let’s be clear, I love trans people & dislike anyone who lies to hurt others! Period!” Although she has been cut off from the company, this incident further reinforces the problematic idea that transgender people are inauthentic or a threat. This kind of rhetoric can be found in more common comments about how transgender women are deceiving straight cisgender men, to the so-called trans panic defense.
Her coming out was, of course, an act of courage. However, in her case, her coming out was her taking agency over her own identity. In 2015, she skyrocketed to popularity in the beauty community with her video “The Power of Makeup.” In the video, she transforms half of her face with her usual style of makeup while leaving the other half natural. Through the process, she sends the message that she is the same regardless of how she chooses to express herself. She acknowledges that makeup may be used to fit societal expectations or to hide one’s insecurities, but she sees it as an art form that provides her agency over her self-expression. Her message now is an extension of her message then: she should have control over how she wants to write her story, just as anybody else should for theirs.