Screenshot: Nikkie de Jager / NikkieTutorials / YouTube
NikkieTutorials has been in my periphery for several years as a super-reliable source of makeup advice (particularly for anything contouring-related.) I admire her positivity just as much as her prowess with a makeup brush.
Also known as Nikkie de Jager, she’s been at the forefront of my mind since I watched her most recently uploaded video, titled simply ‘I’m Coming Out.’ In it de Jager outlines her experiences growing up trans, being blackmailed with her gender history and her bolstering hopes for any “little Nikkies around the world” to live and express themselves however they want.
De Jager explained that she has “been blackmailed by people who wanted to leak [her] story to the press.”
In a pretty badass move, she decided not to let her blackmailers force her out of the closet. Instead she shared that personal aspect of herself with her 13 million YouTube subscribers on many of her own terms — even though it should have all been on her terms.
Coming out as a response to blackmail is, without a doubt, one of the bravest things I have ever seen. But, as I’ve gathered from all de Jager’s vivid reactions, it’s also liberating, exciting and really frightening.
As high-profile news tends to do, de Jager’s video has received tons of love and support but also its share of hateful, misinformed responses. Dani California, a previous employee at the cosmetic brand Too Faced, and de Jager’s blackmailers have framed coming out as an obligatory act, and that anything less than divulging one’s sensitive medical history would be untruthful.
“They said they wanted to leak it because I’m lying or that I don’t want to tell my truth or because I’m too scared for people to know who I truly am,” de Jager revealed.
California wrote in her Instagram bio “Transgender, huh? That’s not the only thing she’s been LYING about,” before disciplinary action was promptly taken against her. Her position at Too Faced was terminated by her brother, the brand’s creator.
Stepping away from Nikkie-specific events, coming out as trans has always been fraught with incredible danger to trans people’s mental health, safety and financial stability.
When trans and non-binary people are twice as likely as women in the general population to experience sexual violence, taking a stroll alone becomes an act of bravery.
When trans and non-binary people face significant workplace discrimination, going to work becomes an act of bravery.
When just living authentically makes someone vulnerable to violence and discrimination, coming out becomes an act of bravery — and not a voluntary act in too many cases.
While de Jager is definitely to be commended on being so resilient and outspoken, don’t let her experiences elicit a round of applause and nothing more. Let it elicit applause, awe, empathy, and then, most importantly, action.
Let’s act on what de Jager encourages in her video, what the trans community — and all marginalised communities, really — deserve. Let’s amplify trans voices, hold transphobes accountable and campaign for the implementation of the goals set out in the Human Rights Commission’s 2008 Inquiry into Discrimination Experienced by Transgender People report (which, more than ten years later, have yet to be reached).
“It is 2020,” de Jager said, “and it is time for us to understand, accept, hear and respect [everyone.]”
The efforts of de Jager and other trans advocates are ushering us closer to a world where being trans doesn’t demand so much courage from such a young age. A world where anyone can grocery-shop, or take the bus, or post a video and still feel safe and respected — because everyone deserves at least that.
Everyone deserves to be unapologetically themselves: no bravery needed.
For gender-affirming support networks, please see the following resources:
Visit OUTLine or call 0800 688 5463 (0800 OUTLINE)
Visit Gender Minorities or call (04) 385 0611
Visit Agender NZ or call 027 280-6466
Visit RainbowYOUTH and leave your detailsSupport Villainesse