Polarising trans influencer Nikita Dragun accuses Vine star Taylor Caniff of ‘transphobia’

Nikita Dragun

Trans YouTuber Nikita Dragun has accused a former Vine star of transphobia, after footage of the latter calling her a “dude” was shared on Instagram.

Dragun posted clips that she said came from YouTuber and Vine star Taylor Caniff’s “close friends” Instagram story. The video shows Caniff leaving a club with two men and asking them if they knew Dragun was a “dude”.

In the video, Caniff says: “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.”

Caniff is known for collaborating with fellow influencers and former Vine stars Cameron Dallas and Nash Grier. All three were part of MagCon, a content collective during the video hosting service’s heyday.

Dragun said on her Instagram: “This is what it’s like to be trans. My livelihood is constantly threatened by just living my life as a trans person. This is how trans people die.

“We must stop trans hate because it leads to trans violence and people lose their lives or, even worse, they take their own lives. Experiencing things like this breaks my heart.”

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Caniff responded by claiming that some of his “clout-ridden” friends were responsible for leaking the clip and it had been a “joke”.

In a now-deleted post on X/Twitter, Dragun branded him “transphobic”. Since then, users on X have dug out an old YouTube video by influencer Tana Mongeau, who, three years ago, also accused Caniff of being transphobic.

PinkNews reached out for comment to Taylor Caniff for a comment. He replied:

“Please look at her video with the Miami police department. And see how she treats people and individuals. I have no issues with how people want to live their lives. Trans, gay whatever it is. I support them all. I just highly dislike Nikita Dragun as a human.”

Why is Nikita Dragun a polarising figure?

Firstly, we are not suggesting that any trans person – even ones who have previously faced controversy – ever deserves to be subjected to transphobia or misgendering. However, for context on Caniff’s comment above – it is worth noting that Dragun has been called out several times for her behaviour in the past.

Dragun is an influencer and professional make-up artist who quickly gained three million subscribers on YouTube after joining in 2013, and also as more than million followers on Instagram.

Since then, Dragun has been involved in a number of controversies. Most notably, she was accused of “blackfishing” when modelling for Jeffree Star Cosmetics in 2017.

She was also arrested in 2022 for alleged battery on a police officer at a Miami Beach hotel.

How did Nikita Dragun become famous?

Dragun became famous first on YouTube, getting small brand deals, then deciding to “start taking Instagram and YouTube seriously”.

She launched her own cosmetics line, Dragun Beauty, in 2019 and joined TikTok in 2020, where she has garnered 13 million followers.

She built her beauty and fashion-focused content over time, starting to model for her own cosmetics line as well as for other brands.

Her make-up line is targeted towards the transgender community, and all products are vegan and cruelty-free, which is why she wanted to launch her brand independently.

Dragun is also a member of Hype House, a TikTok creator collective.

She has been openly transgender since 2015, beginning to transition when she was at university choosing the name Nikita after the TV show of the same name.

What controversies has Nikita Dragun been involved in?

She’s been accused of blackfishing: which is when people who are not Black make themselves look Black, biracial, or racially ambiguous in photos, videos or in real life.

People said Nikita Dragun’s skin looked noticeably darker than usual in a shoot for Jeffree Star Cosmetics in 2017, but Dragun said she was disappointed by the backlash, telling Seventeen: “It’s very unfortunate that a section of the community is choosing to interpret and liken my image in Jeffree Star’s campaign to blackface.”

That was not the only time she has been accused of racial insensitivity, facing a backlash for putting a Black man on a dog leash at the MTV Video Music Awards in 2019, and being called out for wearing box braids and culturally appropriating Black hairstyles.

Dragun explained that she was wearing box braids to “show my love and appreciation for all the gorgeous Black women in my life”.

She was criticised again in 2020 when she tweeted what she said was a joke about her mixed heritage, by asking “What race should I be?”. She was called out for blackfishing again in 2021 after posting promotional photos from her Dragun Cosmetics line.

Before the recent bust up with Taylor Caniff, there have also been previous feuds with fellow influencers.

She faced criticism for speaking out in favour of YouTuber and make-up influencer James Charles in 2019, following beauty YouTuber Tati Westbrook’s controversial “Bye Sister” video, and rowing with former Hype House member Daisy Keech – who was on holiday with Dragun’s ex-boyfriend.

There was another disagreement on Twitter in 2021, after YouTuber and singer Trisha Paytas mocked Dragun’s Snapchat docu-series.

Dragun was also accused of attending a party during the pandemic and breaking COVID-19 restrictions by not wearing a mask.