Culture Feature

NikkieTutorials' Coming Out Story Is a Giant Leap for Normalizing Being Transgender

The popular YouTube beauty guru revealed she's transgender in an emotional video.

This week, Nikkie de Jager—better known as NikkieTutorials—posted a YouTube video titled "I'm Coming Out," in which the massively popular beauty guru revealed that she is a transgender woman.

"Today, I am here to share with you something that I always wanted to share with you one day, but under my own circumstances. It looks like that chance has been taken away from me, so today I am taking back my own power," she said in the emotional 17-minute clip. "When I was younger, I was born in the wrong body, which means I am transgender."

I'm Coming Out. www.youtube.com


De Jager went on to detail her backstory, saying she'd always felt like a girl and that she started fully presenting herself as female around the age of seven or eight. By 14, she was taking hormones and growth stoppers; by 19, she said she had "fully transitioned." At the time, de Jager was also building her channel and working towards her current 12.7 million subscribers.

The dark side of de Jager's coming out, however, is that unnamed potential blackmailers had been threatening to leak her story to the press. It's important to note that de Jager is in an undeniably privileged position; she's white, she said her mother was supportive of her entire journey, and she hails from the Netherlands, one of the most progressive countries in the world for LGBTQ+ rights. However, her story brings to light the potential dangers of outing someone before they're ready. Many people who aren't straight and cisgender cannot safely come out, and unwillingly being forced to do so can pose gigantic risks. According to the Centre for Suicide Prevention, 22 to 43% of transgender people have attempted suicide in their lifetime, and unsafe or unwelcoming situations are a major contributing factor.

Thankfully, de Jager was in a safe position to disclose her story. She serves as a living example for people with antiquated perceptions of trans folks, especially those who think that children should be rigidly assimilated into the sex they were assigned at birth. GLAAD reported in 2017 that 3% of people across all age groups in the U.S. identify as transgender. Younger groups are more likely to identify as trans, reaffirming our need to provide equal rights to LGBTQ+ folks across the board and include them in our conversations about sex education. That way, more people can go through smoother transitions, like de Jager was so lucky to have.

But of course, de Jager wasn't immune to backlash. Leaked screenshots indicated that the sister of Too Faced founder Jerrod Blandino had made transphobic comments on her Instagram page, insinuating de Jager was a liar. De Jager had collaborated with Too Faced in the past and stated she felt underpaid by them. Blandino responded, sending love to de Jager and saying he'd fired his sister. Many other celebrities showed their outpour of support, too, including Ariana Grande and Kim Petras.


Transgender public figures like de Jager, Laverne Cox, and Euphoria actress Hunter Schafer—people who you'd "never guess were trans" if they hadn't said so—show that non-cis people are around you more often than you might think. There's no one way to define "looking trans," and if de Jager's story is any indication, being welcoming and educating young children about LGBTQ+ identities can reap major benefits down the line. De Jager is brave for coming out; hopefully, she'll encourage others both young and old to do the same.

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Culture News

Trans-Model Responds to Victoria's Secret's Anti-Trans Comments with Lingerie Campaign

LGBTQ+ activist Munroe Bergdorf launches her first post-operation modeling campaign.

The Independent

Anyone still disappointed in Victoria's Secret for its lack of diversity should take heart that "The Victoria's Secret Fashion Show Is Dead," as The Cut reported in December.

The 2018 event garnered the worst ratings in the brand's history, largely due to the chief marketing officer's intolerant remarks during an ill-received interview with Vogue. Even though Ed Razek issued an apology on Twitter, the consumer and celebrity backlash against the brand continues.

But VS's intolerance has only helped Munroe Bergdorf, LGBTQ+ activist and trans-model, promote her cause—as well as her career. The 31-year-old has collaborated with Bluebella to launch a new ad campaign with the British lingerie line.The Valentine's Day campaign features Bergdorf modeling for the first time since her gender reassignment surgery. The new line by the "female-owned and female-created lingerie brand" debuted yesterday.

Twitter

As an outspoken activist, Bergdorf has been open about beginning her transition at 19 years old, struggling with body image issues, and experiencing discrimination in the fashion industry. She told The Daily Mail, "Lingerie should be something that all women can enjoy. It's something personal, beautiful, and intimate that is a celebration of femininity, something that every woman should have the option of being included in." She added, "True diversity is the future, let's leave any form of discrimination or exclusion in the past."

The model also disagrees with critics who believe that lingerie fashion "upholds a standard of beauty that is infiltrated by the male gaze." In an interview with Out, she emphasized the difference between celebrating femininity and objectifying women: "I would say, if the lingerie isn't picked by a woman, if it's not intended to represent all women, if the lingerie is being created in mind for the benefit of men, then I think that's very different from lingerie celebrating femininity. If it's intended for the consumption of the gaze of men, then that's very different from it being a tool of empowerment."

Describing her first post-op campaign, she told Elle UK, "Bluebella is a lingerie brand created by women and I think that's so important, especially in today's society when we are becoming more conscious of conversations surrounding inclusivity and authenticity." In contrast, Bergdorf has been outspoken against Victoria Secret for stifling diversity in its brand, stating, "It's a big shame Victoria's Secret decided not to be inclusive of trans women within their shows or campaigns."

Her criticism is rooted in Razek's ill-worded response to a question about consumers' expectations. He said. "Do I think about diversity? Yes. Does the brand think about diversity? Yes. Do we offer larger sizes? Yes."

But then the 70-year-old added: "So it's like, why don't you do 50? Why don't you do 60? Why don't you do 24? It's like, why doesn't your show do this? Shouldn't you have transsexuals in the show? No. No, I don't think we should. Well, why not? Because the show is a fantasy. It's a 42-minute entertainment special. That's what it is. It is the only one of it's kind in the world and any other fashion brand in the world would take it in a minute, including the competitors that are carping at us. And they carp at us because we're the leader."

Despite later acknowledging that his remarks were "insensitive," Razek still implied that transsexual models would ruin the constructed feminine "fantasy" that Victoria's Secret profits from. This week, Bergdorf told Out that she hopes the heads of Victoria's Secret sees images of Bluebella's line, saying, "[The campaign is] a great reaction to a really sad situation. I mean, ultimately, any woman can sell the fantasy. These images show that trans people aren't an exception to that statement." She added, "I'm not trying to look like a Victoria's Secret model. I'm not trying to look like anybody else apart from myself."


Meg Hanson is a Brooklyn-based writer, teacher and jaywalker. Find Meg at her website and on Twitter @megsoyung.


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TV News

TV's First Trans Superhero Is Set to Debut

The first promotional photos show trans activist, Nicole Maines, as the CW's Nia Nal (a.k.a Dreamer).

USA Today

The CW, a network known for casting twenty-something-year-olds as teens and thirty-something-year-olds as their parents, has made a refreshing step towards accurate representation.

Supergirl's fourth season will feature TV's first transgender superhero. Producers elected to introduce the character, Nia Nal (a.k.a. Dreamer), into the DC Comics TV universe as part of the upcoming season's conflict between a prejudiced leader, Agent Liberty, and all earthbound aliens, including superheroes.

The show's thinly veiled allegory to today's anti-immigration politics is enhanced by Nia's role as a journalist. Executive producer Jessica Queller says the show is "hoping to portray the press as heroic." In addition, Nia's trans identity plays a significant role in the origin story of her powers, which allow her to see the future in her dreams. The character will arrive in National City as a new hire for the media company CatCo, where Kara Danvers (a.k.a. Supergirl) will mentor her.

Filling the role is Nicole Maines, the 21-year-old transgender activist who's best known for winning the landmark case against her school district after she was denied access to the girl's restroom. Maines is new to acting, but she was the subject of the book Becoming Nicole: The Transformation of an American Family, and she was featured in the HBO documentary The Trans List. When her casting was announced at San Diego Comic-Con this past Saturday, Maines said of her character, "She has this ferocious drive to protect people and to fight against discrimination and hatred."

Inverse

She added, "If I had had a trans superhero, someone who looks like me wearing a cape (while) growing up, that would have changed the game. That would have been an entire new level of validation in myself to think that I can be a superhero!" Queller lauded Maines' addition to the show, announcing, "Our show is all about inclusion and representation. It seems the perfect moment in our culture to introduce a trans-female superhero." Season 4 of Supergirl will premiere on October 14.


Meg Hanson is a Brooklyn-based writer, teacher and jaywalker. Find Meg at her website and on Twitter @megsoyung.


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