On Monday, Dutch YouTuber, Nikkie de Jager, announced that she is transgender. She is better known by her YouTube name, NikkieTutorials. Since then, Aaron van den Dobbelsteen, a 35-year-old transgender man from North Brabant, has spoken out about the impact of the video.
Aaron says that Nikkie, who has over 13 million subscribers to her YouTube channel, ‘reaches so many people, especially young people.’ He adds that things would have ended ‘very badly’ for himself if he did not have a role model during his gender transition.
Aaron was born female. He says that he knew from a young age that he would rather be male, but that it took him 33 years to act on it. ‘The times were different, so I didn’t really act on my feelings,’ he says. But years later, when he saw a transgender person on a television program, he recognised himself so much in their story that he felt it was no longer possible to ignore his feelings.
He describes his “coming out” experience as ‘terrifying but at the same time, a huge relief’. This is because ‘being transgender is still quite a taboo subject. I was afraid that people would no longer want to speak to me’.
Joep Roeffen recognises those fears. Roeffen is a clinical psychologist at Genterteam Zuid-Nederland, an organisation that supports transgender people as they begin their transition. He says that having a celebrity like Nikkie de Jager come out as transgender is a very good thing. ‘She has had many positive reactions to her announcement. There will undoubtedly have been hate messages too, but most people support her. That is important for her and also for others,’ he says.
Like Nikkie, Aaron also received mostly positive responses when he came out as transgender. He says that before his transition, ‘I didn’t have much zest for life. How long can you keep that up?’. Now things are going much better for him. ‘I started studying again and I can finally start building my own future.’
Aaron says that Nikkie de Jager is a powerful role model for other transgender people. ‘If you have no examples or role models, you feel different and it is difficult to describe how you feel.’ He continues, ‘if you don’t fit into a category or label, you can have a tough life. It would be nice if we relied less on labels and say that it’s just okay to be who you are.’
Translator: Rachael Vickerman
Source: Omroep Brabant