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Transgender visibility

14/01/2020

As an international living in the Netherlands, I had chosen to try my best to learn the language just so I can converse and understand the culture better. One of the ways I’ve chosen to do such is by watching the infamous Dutch make-up artist and social media influencer 'Nikkie Tutorials' (Nikkie de Jager). Nikkie is only 25 years old, but has already built an empire on YouTube with 12.2 million subscribers after approximately 12 years of uploading videos online.

Just some hours ago, Nikkie posted a video called 'I’m Coming Out' in which she came out as transgender. She explained that she had fully transitioned by the age of 19 and has always had her mother’s support in her self-expression and identity since she was a child. Not many people are born into families that are as accepting and understanding as Nikkie's and that was fortunate - but what was surprising is that someone was trying to blackmail her by outing her.

Now, trans people have suffered for years with visibility, representation, and acceptance. The mentality of the blackmailer fits a reoccurring behavioural pattern of anti-trans hate that fuels discrimination and violence. Nikkie was, in a way, forced to post that video in fear of someone else leaking her personal life and identity and that is not okay.

She continued to stress how this shouldn’t change how people view her and that she remains to be the same person people have come to love and support over the years. I found it heartbreaking to see how many times she needed to emphasise and repeat her mantra “I am me” for people to understand that she is her own woman and her gender identity should not change that. If we can just take a moment to grasp how someone as successful as Nikkie, who was born into a very accepting and loving family, was still blackmailed and harassed about their trans identity. Imagine what someone with far less resources or a less accepting family and/or a more hateful society may go through.

I wrote this column because I wanted to not only show my support for Nikkie’s choice to share that part of her life on the internet (which we all know can be a very scary place sometimes), but also to remind you all to be compassionate and respectful. Self-expression comes in its endless forms and peoples’ gender identities are no one else’s but their own. Try to show your genuine support when you can because even the simplest actions of kindness can spark a goodness that we all look for.

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