It’s been a week since beauty guru Nikki de Jager, aka NikkieTutorials, bravely came out as transgender to her 12 million followers.
In the wake of the aftermath, the Youtube superstar sat down with the one and only Ellen DeGeneres to talk about her experience growing up trans and why she was forced to come out before she was ready.
In her initial video — which has been viewed more than 31 million times — Nikki briefly explained that someone threatened to tell her truth if she didn’t. She told Ellen that she always planned on coming out but the blackmailer forced her to do it sooner than expected. She said,
“A couple of weeks ago, I got emails from a certain person. And he was not okay with the fact that I was ‘lying’ and wanted to expose that. He had a very pressuring tone of voice and was like, ‘If we don’t get an answer by tomorrow, it’s out.’ And I feel like his entire goal was to destroy my life.”
It’s terrible that Nikki didn’t get to come out on her own terms, but the blackmailer’s plan to ruin Nikki’s life didn’t exactly work. Since coming out, Nikki has received nothing but love and support from her fans and fellow members of the beauty community. And her truth has most likely given strength to thousands of trans youth who feel unseen.
But one thing is for certain, just because you’re not out, doesn’t mean you’re “lying”, and it definitely doesn’t mean that you’re “tricking” anyone. As Ellen told Nikkie,
“I don’t think that’s lying. First of all, that’s your own private business, and you’re teaching people how to put makeup on. That’s got nothing to do with anybody.”
There’s a common and ignorant misconception that if a trans person doesn’t immediately disclose that they’re trans, they’re somehow misleading others. Gender identity is a personal matter and it’s no one’s business to know how you identify. And for some, there may never be a perfect time to come out, especially because society has shown us time and time again just how dangerous it could be for a trans person if and when their gender identity is discovered.
Members of the trans community have to worry about more than just being accepted by their loved ones. By coming out, they could literally be putting their lives in danger.
Every year, the Human Rights Campaign does its best to accurately track the murders of those in the trans community, to shine a light on an extremely disturbing epidemic. And by the end of 2019, at least 25 trans women were murdered by people who were made aware of their gender identity.
The possibility that someone can harm you is something that Nikki took into consideration when she made the decision to come out to her fiance, Dylan. In her video, she explained,
“Trusting someone enough to be truly you is flipping scary. I wait to tell my full story until I know I’m in good hands. Because people out there are scary and dangerous.”
Cisgender people are never forced to reveal how they identify and that same level of respect needs to be given to members of the trans community. Trans people aren’t being dishonest if they don’t come out, they’re just trying to be the person they’ve always known they were.
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Alysia Stevenson is a twenty-seven New York City transplant currently living in Florida with her boyfriend and three furbabies. When she’s not writing, you can find her watching beauty tutorials on Youtube or Parks and Rec for the millionth time.