By The Washington Post · Lateshia Beachum
Nikkie de Jager, 25, better known as NikkieTutorials to her 12 million-plus subscribers, revealed that she's a transgender woman in a video that was trending on Twitter on Monday night and continues to be the most-watched video on YouTube on Tuesday afternoon, approaching 20 million views.
The Dutch makeup artist disclosed her gender identity after facing blackmail threats by people who wanted to take her story to the media for profit, she said. Announcing her transgender identity was a way for her to reclaim her power, she said.
"It feels good to finally do it. It is time to let go and be truly free," she said with her palms pressed together and glittery nails pointing toward the camera. "When I was younger, I was born in the wrong body - which means that I am transgender."
Since uploading her first video nearly 12 years ago, de Jager has amassed a cultlike following of makeup enthusiasts and artists alike who watch her videos for tips about how to perfect winged eyeliner, reviews on new cosmetic releases and marvel at her makeup artistry. Her passion for makeup and knowledge of how products should perform for consumers has led to collaborations with top cosmetics brands such as Too Faced and Orfra to makeup-transforming videos with elite celebrity makeup artists on her channel.
Her accomplishments were all achieved without any questions surrounding her gender identity - an intentional choice, she told viewers.
"I always wanted to live in a world where I saw myself as me, as Nikkie, as a woman, as a girl, as a boss lady," she said into the camera.
The YouTube star has been transitioning into the woman she is for years.
"Ever since I was born I always thought that I was a girl," she said, explaining her affinity for toys and styles of dress associated with little girls. "All of me was girly."
She was already dressing and styling herself as a girl by 7 or 8, she said.
De Jager was already taking hormone blockers and growth stoppers to help her transition by age 14 with support she received from her mother and schoolteachers, she said. By age 19, de Jager said she was "fully transitioned," hinting that she possibly received gender affirmation surgery.
The Netherlands has been a global leader on LGBTQ rights and was the first country to allow transgender people to openly serve in its armed forces in 1974, CNN reported. It was also the first country to legalize same-sex marriage in 2001.
The country made it legal for transgender citizens to change their gender designation on identity documents in July 2014, removing requirements for hormone therapy, gender affirmation surgery and sterilization.
Much of de Jager's change was documented to an unsuspecting following.
"I transitioned while on YouTube," she said. "I have literally grown up and transformed into me."
She said she always wanted to reveal her transgender experience, but being blackmailed forced her own personal timeline.
"It was frightening to know there are people out there who are so evil that they can't respect someone's true identity," she said of her extortionists before flipping them off with a middle finger that showed off a squared, sparkling acrylic nail.
Her revelation doesn't change anything about her, she said, before briefly expressing concerns over how people would receive her news.
The response to de Jager's announcement has received mostly praise from the beauty influencer community.
Makeup maven Nikita Dragun, who's documented her makeup techniques and gender transition on her channel, tweeted that de Jager's "coming out" moved her to tears.
Julie Vu, a Canadian YouTuber better known as PrincessJules who has also detailed her transition for her subscribers, made a reaction video expressing shock and pride in de Jager's decision to share something personal.
Vu, a lifestyle vlogger and makeup devotee, said she could relate to being outed based on her own experience of being identified as transgender in dance clubs, and admonished de Jager's alleged blackmailers.
"Transgender people get killed all the time for being themselves," she said. "When you out somebody, you put their life in danger and that is not okay. Someone's life is not a joke."
At least 22 transgender or gender-nonconforming people were killed last year in the United States, according to a report from the Human Rights Campaign, which tweeted its support of de Jager.
De Jager said she hoped that her public acknowledgment of her gender identity would help younger children who might also feel out of place or not like who they truly are, she said.
"I don't know if people are going to hate me or accept me," she said toward the end of her video. "All I know is that I haven't changed. You're still seeing the same Nikkie now."