Popular YouTube creator and makeup artist Nikkie de Jager revealed Monday she is a transgender woman to her more than 12 million followers, saying the move was prompted by attempted blackmail.
The 25-year-old, who goes by Nikkie Tutorials, said in a video that while she had always planned to tell her fans one day, someone threatened to out her to the media without her consent. The chance to reveal her journey on her own terms was taken away, "so I am taking back my own power," de Jager said.
"I can’t believe I am saying this today to all of you, for the entire world to see, but damn it feels good to finally do it. It’s time to let go and be truly free," de Jager said in the video. "When I was younger I was born in the wrong body, which means that I am transgender."
De Jager has spent a large portion of her life on the YouTube platform, posting her first makeup tutorial video 11 years ago, according to her channel's video listing. The Dutch creator has used her internet fame to launch several products, collaborating over the years with beauty brands such as Ofra, Maybelline and Too Faced.
Within about five hours of posting, de Jager's "I'm Coming Out" video topped the YouTube trending page with 5.5 million views.
She said in Monday's video that she hoped sharing her story would help inspire others to live their lives "like you want it and the way you deserve it." The YouTuber said she felt like a girl from as early as she can remember.
De Jager announced in the video she began transitioning at a young age, with the support of her mother and many of her teachers when she started to grow her hair out and wear girls clothing. She "fully transitioned" by the age of 19, about five years after she began hormone therapy.
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"I transitioned while on YouTube," de Jager said. "And saying that right now seems so crazy to me, because I have literally grown up and transformed into me in front of all of you."
The YouTuber told fans she hoped they understood she was still the same Nikkie as she always showed on camera and that they would still continue to care about her.
"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. This was my way out, you know?" de Jager said. "I started my channel back in the days where I still got really, really, bullied for all of this and this world was my way out."
Responses from fans were generally positive, as many posted their support for her and anger at her blackmailers.
Fellow YouTuber Gabbi Hanna said on Twitter that whoever blackmailed de Jager underestimated "the power of a fearless, proud, unapologetic female."
De Jager ended her video with a reoccurring segment for her channel where she explained a Dutch word for the day. She chose "vrouw," or the Dutch word for woman.