Nikita Dragun is an American social media star who rose to fame for posting beauty tutorials on Instagram. She joined YouTube in February 2013, and as of early July 2021, she has accrued over 3.6 million followers. Dragun created her TikTok account in mid-2020, and so far, it has proved to be her most successful social media page in terms of followers.
Thanks to collaborations with established stars and original videos, Dragun has close to 14 million followers on TikTok. In 2020, Dragun won the Best in Beauty award at the 12th Annual Shorty Awards.
Nikita suppressed her feminine identity in her younger days due to pressure from teachers and bullying
At around age 5, Nikita knew that she was transgender. The teachers at her school noticed that she loved wearing dresses and informed Nikita’s parents about it. “But one day a teacher came over and asked why I was dressing up like this and then she called my parents,” Nikita told Forbes.
The call didn’t surprise Nikita’s parents as they’d noticed that Dragun tended to line up with girls during physical education class and that she loved playing with dolls and insisted on wearing shorts with side-cuts. However, the call achieved its desired effect as Nikita started suppressing her femininity.
Bullying also inspired Nikita’s decision to hide. “I knew I was different and there were certain things I couldn’t show or I’d be bullied or teased,” she said. Inwardly, however, Nikita retained her desire to be her authentic self. She educated herself by watching documentaries and reading informative pieces about being transgender.
Nikita stopped hiding when she experienced a more inclusive environment in high school. “People just accepted me,” she told Forbes. “But it wasn’t until college that I really started to develop my trans identity.” Much to the disappointment of her parents, Nikita declined a scholarship to NYU.
She took a year’s break from studies before joining the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising to pursue a degree in business and marketing. At college, Nikita got a fake I.D. and changed her name to Nicole. She was surprised at how fast people accepted her as a woman in nightclubs and on social media.
Dragun adopted the name Nikita from the CW series with the same name. It starred an Asian lady named Nikita, who Dragun loved because ‘she was so badass and kind of looked like how I envisioned myself to look.’ She got the name Dragun from her childhood bullies. Dragun told Glossy:
“When I was growing up in Virginia, I’d a lot of times be the only mixed kid in the class. Sometimes they would bully me and be like, ‘Oh, you look like a dragon,’ because I’m Asian. At the time, when you’re a kid, it was like the worst thing ever to be called anything, [but] it kind of turned into my thing.”
Dragun documented her transition on YouTube and still posts any changes on her body on the platform
Six months into her YouTube journey, Nikita revealed to her fans that she identified as a transgender woman. She told Forbes that she came out because she was tired and frustrated. She then started to document her transformation on YouTube. She said:
“Then, I started being honest and documented my journey. It was really out of frustration. I wanted to transition, and I had all these questions, and I couldn’t find answers anywhere online.”
Nikita documented and posted every step of her transition. We saw her morph into the body she always envisioned for herself. Dragun told Elle that she wishes she didn’t suppress her femininity during her childhood because she had all the qualities she needed to succeed as a trans woman. She said:
“I wish I could tell myself that all those qualities about myself that I knew instantly, even as a kid, and that I knew I had to hide – and I hid them for most of my life – that those qualities would push me forward in life.”
Dragun still posts any changes on her body on YouTube. In March 2021, she posted a video of her 4th rhinoplasty and as usual, she was as candid as ever. She attached the following video description:
“Hi draguns! Yes… I got another nose job. This video is for educational purposes only. My nose has always been my biggest insecurity. Join me as I take u along for my 4th rhinoplasty surgery and throughout my entire recovery. U will see everything… and I mean EVERYTHING.”
Nikita regularly expresses pride at her transformation and the person she has become. “TRANS AND PROUD,” Nikita wrote alongside an Instagram photo of her childhood self alongside her trans self. She added:
“I am loved and have every right to live my life as ME. Trans women are women. Trans men are men. Thank u to everyone for supporting me and showing me the love I didn’t know existed in the world. I love u guys so much.”
Nikita’s parents feared for her safety when she started her transition
Nikita was born on 31st January 1996 in Belgium to a Vietnamese dad and a Mexican mom. Dragun’s parents noted her inclination towards feminine activities early on, and they supported their daughter. They attended school matches to support Nikita as she displayed her skills on the cheerleading team.
“I knew that something wasn’t normal,” Nikita’s dad said in a video posted on Nikita’s channel in March 2017. “But I understand that’s what you want, that’s what you like, that’s what you are good at. And so I am just happy for you being who you are.”
Nikita’s parents supported her transformation, but her dad felt apprehensive about Nikita’s safety during the procedures. Her mom worried that societal expectations would affect Nikita during her transformation. Thankfully, however, Nikita completed the transformation safely. Dragun’s mom said:
“I just want you to know that we’ve got your back. We totally support you, we love you, we accept you. Pink, polka dots, stripes, rainbows or whatever it may be… Be authentic, live your life with honor. Honor to yourself and honor to the family. Be happy.”
Dragun continues to appreciate her parents for their overwhelming support. On 31st May 2021, she posted a throwback photo of her alongside her dad next to a recent photo of the pair. Nikita captioned the post:
“My father’s acceptance of me from his son to now his daughter is truly one of my proudest moments. It took a while to understand and didn’t happen overnight… but I count my blessings every day that I have a supportive dad in my crazy Trans life. I’m truly blessed. I love you so much papa dragun.”
Dragun recently clapped back at influencer Taylor Caniff for calling her a dude
Nikita has been openly transgender since 2015 and has repeatedly stated that she uses the pronouns she/her. Influencer Taylor Caniff, however, showed total disregard for Nikita’s gender identity by referring to her as a man. In a video posted to ‘close friends’ on Instagram, which Nikita got a hold of, Caniff can be heard saying:
“My boy’s hooking up with a guy. And I tell the security guard, ‘Bro, like, it’s none of my business but… Did you guys know that that’s a dude?’ They looked like I threw a stun grenade in the back of the security lounge. They were like ‘Bro, what?’ and I was like ‘Yeah, that was a dude,’ and they could not believe it.”
Dragun responded by posting a video pleading with people to stop spreading trans hate. “My livelihood is constantly threatened by just living my life as a trans person,” a tearful Nikita said. “This is how trans people die,” she added, ominously. Nikita explained that trans hate leads to trans violence, which could cause deaths in the trans community. She said:
“This time it was me, next time it could be somebody else. We must stop trans hate because it leads to trans violence. And people lose their lives, or even worse, they take their own lives because experiencing things like this just breaks my heart and my entire world. And it’s disgusting and I won’t stand for it.”
Caniff replied by stating that he was joking and that he’d reached out to Nikita to apologize. “I wasn’t being transphobic,” he said. “It was obviously something I shouldn’t have said. I’m just trying to have comedy. But like I said, I mean it with no malicious intent.” Nikita found Taylor’s response to be unsatisfactory and expressed her disdain via the following tweet:
“This man is on his live saying I’m doing this for clout and he’s bisexual. Sir u haven’t been relevant since magcon. Sit ur Transphobic as down. It’s sad I even gave you any kind of attention.”
Dragun was rumored to be dating Chase Stobbe after breaking up with her ‘ex’ Michael Yerger
In early July 2020, Nikita posted photos of herself vacationing alongside a mystery man, whom we later found out to be Chase Stobbe. The photos sparked a rumor that the pair were dating. A couple of weeks before posting the pictures, Dragun had started a Twitter feud with her ‘ex’ Michael Yerger.
“I ain’t even mad when I see my ex with another girl,” Nikita tweeted in response to a photo posted by Yerger’s girlfriend Daisy Keech. Michael responded by emphasizing that his relationship with Nikita was a hoax. “You still love using the word ‘ex’ lmfaoo it’s been far too long to keep bugging about an old hoax,” Michael said.
Nikita and Michael’s association started as an arrangement in which Dragun paid Michael to act as her boyfriend in an October 2018 video. After the shoot, the pair continued posting photos on social media, and in a March 2019 Q&A, Nikita announced that the pair were dating.
“It was the first time in my transition or womanhood that I had a guy that I really liked and just a guy in general tell me that he liked me,” Nikita gushed. In July 2019, Dragun posted a video detailing the heartbreak caused by the end of her relationship. She stated that she ended the relationship because Michael cheated on her. Nikita said:
“It really threw me because I never experienced that pain like that inner heartbreak. The thing is, I’ve experienced pain on all degrees. My fucking life is pain. I have gotten eight hour surgeries. I’ve got this, I’ve got that. Nip, tuck, pulled, and whatever. Nothing could amount to the pain I felt when this all happened.”
Yerger’s response took everybody by surprise as he claimed that he never had a consensual relationship with Nikita. He acknowledged that his association with Nikita helped his career but asserted that he didn’t ask for any of it. When Nikita asked him to pose as her boyfriend, he agreed because he thought it beneficial for his career.
Michael stated that the Q&A video was difficult to participate in as he had to lie about the fake relationship. Nikita expected loyalty from Michael, but he didn’t feel obligated to stay loyal to her because it wasn’t a real relationship. He wrote on Instagram:
“I was forced to give her a fantasy in person and on camera as I continued to say yes to the opportunities. The pain I inflicted was never intentional, but rather innocent and haphazard. I just wanted to quit feeling like I was living a lie and being forced into a lifestyle and a scene that I didn’t know if I ever understood or even wanted.”
Dragun has been involved in multiple blackfishing controversies
Dragun has been involved in a myriad of controversies since she became a social media star. She has dealt with most of them, but the blackfishing controversy refuses to go away. Blackfishing is a practice in which people who are not Black artificially darken their skin to appear Black, biracial, or racially ambiguous.
In March 2017, Nikita posted Instagram photos promoting Jeffree Star Cosmetics. Dragun faced backlash because she appeared noticeably darker than usual in one of the photos. In a statement to Seventeen, Dragun asserted that she was disappointed by the criticism she received.
“The message of this campaign is intended to welcome all gender identities, sexualities, and races to enjoy the makeup line,” she said. “I’m disappointed that anyone would choose to critique the creative design of this incredibly inclusive campaign, rather than celebrate the diversity in it.”
In September 2019, Dragun was accused of cultural appropriation for wearing box braids at the New York Fashion Week. She responded by posting a photo of herself wearing box braids on Instagram and stating that she wore them to ‘show my love and appreciation for all the gorgeous black women in my life.’
“Too often there’s a double standard when another person takes inspiration from black culture, suddenly it’s a new trend or it’s renamed to be something else,” she added. In October 2020, Nikita tweeted out, “What race should I be?’ The tweet attracted backlash due to her previous blackfishing and cultural appropriation controversies.
“This shit is not funny,” YouTuber Nyma Tang responded to Dragun’s tweet. Dragun later tweeted that she was tired of defending herself on every post. In February 2021, Nikita was again accused of blackfishing after posting a photo promoting a face powder from Dragun Cosmetics. Dragun didn’t comment on the latest backlash.
Dragun started Dragun Beauty because she was tired of earning meagre commissions from brand collaborations
Dragun fell in love with makeup after seeing how it transformed her mom and sister. She gained a deeper appreciation for makeup after realizing that it made her appreciate the person she saw in the mirror. “It was the first time I had control in my life and could have others see me exactly as I decided,” she told Forbes. “The power was freeing and exciting!”
Nikita built her name in the beauty industry by collaborating with established brands. As time went by, however, the desire to create her brand grew. “I felt as though I had to put my big girl panties on, and instead of collaborating with a brand to create a product and then make a small percentage off of my name, I wanted to create my own brand,” Nikita told Glossy.
Dragun created Dragun Beauty, which became the first trans-owned beauty brand. Nikita confessed that she was surprised by the reaction her products received – every product sold out in 24 hours. “It was scary,” Nikita says, but it worked out. “I don’t think there’s a limit to my success,” Nikita told Forbes.
“Five years ago, I could never have imagined I would have accomplished as much as I have now, so I truly can’t imagine what the next five years will bring. Regardless, I’m grateful for Dragun Beauty to be my baby that I’m growing and scaling. I’m so proud.” Dragun Beauty’s success is both a personal triumph and a victory for the trans community in terms of inclusivity.
“It’s definitely growing,” Dragun said of inclusivity in the beauty industry in her interview with Glossy. “I’ve seen incredible campaigns involving trans models or trans people.”