Image by Nikita Dragun/Instagram
Content Warning: This article contains mentions of transphobia, misgendering and harmful language toward trans folks. If you or a loved one are transgender and in need of help, contact PFLAG's Trans Lifeline at (877) 565-8860.
YouTuber Nikita Dragun took to social media on June 15 in response to transphobic comments directed at her by influencer Taylor Caniff earlier that day.
Caniff had filmed Dragun being escorted into a car by a male friend. In the video, Caniff said Dragun’s friend was “down bad” for “hooking up with a man.” Later, he posted additional videos to his Close Friends on Instagram where he bragged about having told nearby security guards that Dragun “was a dude.”
Dragun responded to Caniff’s transphobic videos with a message of her own.
“This is what it’s like to be trans,” she said, teary-eyed. “My livelihood is constantly threatened by just living my life as a trans person. And I’m so embarrassed to even be showing this video, but it’s reality. It’s what’s really f**king happening in the world. I try to be strong for you guys, and hold my head up high and act like I’m not terrified that something like this will happen to me. This is how trans people die.”
As Twitter user @FRACTI0NS pointed out, despite Dragun’s many controversies, no one deserves to be subject to transphobia. End of discussion.
Caniff responded to the backlash by posting a video of himself pretending to cry to the song “Bad Day,” followed by an Instagram Live where he claimed to have sent Dragun a “full apology.”
“I wasn’t being transphobic,” Caniff said. “I was just speaking absolute facts… It was obviously something I shouldn’t have said, even on my Close Friends, but like, I’m just trying to have comedy.”
The obvious question — what’s so funny about blatant transphobia and repeatedly misgendering a person — didn’t seem to phase Caniff very much, if at all.
In a series of tweets, Dragun called attention to the danger and violence faced by trans people and their loved ones.
In 2020, the Human Rights Campaign reported the most deaths of transgender and gender non-conforming individuals since they began collecting data in 2013. There can be no tolerance for transphobia or any other form of bigotry. As Drugan so aptly said, “We must stop trans hate because it leads to trans violence.”