The Untold Truth Of Nikita Dragun

Love her or hate her, it is hard to argue that Nikita Dragun hasn't had a hugely successful career for a social media star. The controversial influencer has many haters but also legions of devoted fans who refer to her as "Mother of Draguns" and have followed her life for a decade. Dragun began her social media career on YouTube, where she maintains over 3 million subscribers despite posting all of her new content to other platforms. As of March 2024, she has 14.3 million people following her on TikTok, 8.5 million followers on Instagram, and just under 3 million subscribers on Snapchat. Dragun has proven that she can draw eyeballs to herself, even when the owners of said eyeballs are not exactly on her side.

Dragun has been critiqued for many things — from blackfishing to maskless partying during quarantine — but she has also put herself out there in a way few influencers have. As arguably the most visible transgender influencer online, Dragun has done wonders in terms of educating the public about things like hormone shots, bathroom discrimination, and the perils of dating for trans women. She has also been vocal about her mental illness, her familial relationships, and pretty much everything else in her personal life. While her career has had many highs — the initial success of her company Dragun Beauty, for example — it has also had many lows, mostly due to Dragun's "all press is good press" attitude and self-created scandals. Here is the untold truth of the provocative but never boring Nikita Dragun.

She grew up in Virginia with three siblings

Nikita Dragun was born in Belgium and raised in Springfield, Virginia, a D.C. area suburb. She was raised alongside her three siblings: brother Vincarlo, sister Allegrah, and Tal, who has gone through a gender transition in the years since being introduced as Dragun's "sister." In December 2019, Dragun posted about being together with all of her siblings for the first time in five years — but thanks to Allegrah's affinity for posting family photos on her public Instagram, it is clear that the clan has made up for lost time. Allegrah's Instagram also illustrates the special connection she shares with her famous sister, despite their eight-year age gap, by way of numerous tributes. "This little girl was unstoppable. She had a fire in her eye that could not be extinguished," she said of Dragun, alongside images and a video of the influencer and her niece, in January 2022.

"She's unapologetically herself. She went from being known for breaking gender barriers in high school, to breaking the internet to sell a fantasy. CEO, Creator, Influencer are some of her titles but I've only known her as sister, best friend, aunt," she continued before taking a pointed jab at the haters. In October of that same year, Allegrah expressed how happy she was to have her sister back on the East Coast. Though Dragun's life went off the rails shortly thereafter, the siblings have remained tight despite any struggles. "We've come a long way. You are the best thing," Allegrah wrote to her sister in December 2023.

She got famous on YouTube but hasn't posted in years

Like the majority of today's big influencers, Nikita Dragun started her social media career before she even graduated high school. Within a couple of years of joining YouTube, which she did in 2013, Dragun was a known name. Her first available video, "How To Get SILVER Hair," is from October 2014, as she has hidden all content made prior to that, but the creator was already referring to her fans as "Draguns" and fielding questions by then. Dragun's early content was exclusively focused on beauty, but that changed in 2015 once she fully transitioned. She then began incorporating transgender-themed content on her channel, both in terms of tracing her transition as well as through references to dating, discrimination, and family.

Dragun's popularity exploded after that, and she quickly became one of the biggest transgender influencers (if not the biggest). Whereas many of her early videos have a couple thousand views or less, most of Dragun's later ones have been watched over a million times each — with some even 14 million times. Though she still has 3.4 million subscribers on the site, Dragun has not posted a YouTube video since January 2021. She remains active on other platforms, despite being targeted by gender-focused hate nearly every time she puts something out for consumption (in addition to legitimate critiques). But the trolls can keep on trolling because they have only made Dragun more famous. The star now has 14.3 million followers on TikTok, where her content has received 290 million likes.

She came out as transgender in a 2015 YouTube video

As previously stated, coming out as transgender completely transformed Nikita Dragun's YouTube channel, propelling her to new heights and expanding her audience beyond the makeup realm. Dragun's December 2015 coming out video, titled "I Am TRANSGENDER," has been viewed nearly 3.5 million times since it was released. Though the influencer had been posting videos presenting as a female prior to that, it was assumed that she identified as male in her personal life and she utilized her birth name up until the coming out video. Since other male-identified beauty influencers often wear makeup, wigs, and female-coded clothing, Dragun was put into the same category as Jeffree Star and James Charles. Dragun coming out was her official declaration of her womanhood, which she had been hinting at for a while.

For example, in the write-up for an October 2015 video labeled "Male to Female Transformation," the word male was put in quotes, and Dragun noted that her pronouns were "SHE ME HER." When she came out publicly two months later, Dragun emotionally expressed her joy and asked to be referred to as Nikita. "I found myself, and that is the reason why I'm so emotional right now," she said [2:10]. "I'm so happy for myself and I'm so happy to see what I can accomplish in the future. Dragun's channel shifted alongside this huge change in her life, and she became a source of education for both cisgender and transgender viewers with her "transgender Q&A" videos and content about hormones, surgery, and discrimination.

Her parents were supportive of her transition

Only one of Nikita Dragun's siblings has been featured on her YouTube channel — sister Allegrah, in a makeover video posted in late 2014 — and the details she has provided about them have been sparse, especially in comparison to what she has shared about her parents. In 2016, Dragun revealed that both of her parents were military veterans and that her father was from Vietnam, while her mother was of Mexican descent. Dragun has also praised both of her parents for their acceptance and support on Instagram, but longtime fans already knew of their unconditional love thanks to their appearance in a March 2017 YouTube video. "I wanted to showcase my parents, because I knew so many people had questions about them and how they felt about my transition," Dragun said at the time.

The video — which was posted on Transgender Day of Visibility and which promoted resources from the Human Rights Campaign — touched upon a number of subjects, including how Dragun's father came from a more traditional background that had kept him quite sheltered from the LGBTQ+ community. It also discussed Dragun's high school cheerleading, when both her parents realized her gender non-conformity, and how they felt about having a transgender child. Dragun's mother got real about her initial hesitation but made it clear it was only due to the publicness of her transition and fears about online bullying and physical safety. "I just want you to know that we've got your back. We totally support you. We love you. We accept you," she said.

She moved to Los Angeles to go to fashion school

Before Nikita Dragun left Virginia for Los Angeles, she almost went an entirely different route. "I was always just really drawn to big cities and I actually was really drawn to New York first. Like, all my dreams are set in New York," she told Global Glam Magazine in 2018. Dragun was accepted to New York University with a full scholarship, but because of her uncertainty, she opted to stay in Virginia for another year to figure things out. She attended community college for a bit, during which time she was also starting to come to terms with and express her transgender identity. Eventually, she left for California to attend fashion school — which is where she was when her YouTube exploded in popularity.

Dragun graduated from the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising — which has several other famous alums, including Lauren Conrad, Amanda Bynes, and Princess Rajwa Al Hussein of Jordan — and studied beauty marketing and production development. "I've always been obsessed with marketing and media. I always wanted to be a business brand owner. I wanted to create things. That was also when I decided to start taking Instagram and YouTube seriously," she told Forbes. "I was very Hannah Montana at the time. I would be in class, and we'd talk about influencers and brand deals, and my face would pop up on the screen and they'd start talking about me! They had no idea that I was sitting in the class. I never wanted anyone to know."

There's an interesting story behind her name

Nikita Dragun had not yet chosen her first name when she was first establishing herself on YouTube, but "Dragun" became a part of her moniker early on. The star made the choice to keep her actual last name, Nguyen, out of the public realm and instead opted for a last name that repurposed a word used to denigrate her and turned it into something powerful. "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," she told Glossy. "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."

The influencer — known as "Mother of Draguns" to her fans — even has a dragon symbol tattooed on her torso, which she revealed in a November 2016 YouTube video that discussed how she now saw the mythical monster as a symbol of her strength, her journey, and the fire inside of her. Known as "NYC Dragun" at the start of her career, Dragun asked fans to start calling her Nikita when she posted her coming out video in 2015. That, too, had a meaning. "I was always really obsessed with the show 'Nikita' that was on the CW. She's an Asian female assassin, and she was so badass and kind of looked like how I envisioned myself to look," she said in the Glossy article.

She has confessed to developing a plastic surgery addiction

The first time Nikita Dragun posted a YouTube video about plastic surgery, it was a detailed look at her facial feminization procedures. The July 2016 video, titled "My Facial Plastic Surgery Story!," included footage from the day of surgery as well as directly after the procedure and some follow-ups. As part of her facial feminization surgery, Dragun had a brown bone shave, a hairline lowering, a jaw shave and liposuction, and a nose job. The influencer later said that this was the start of a plastic surgery addiction and a constant quest for perfection. Though she acknowledged her addiction in 2018, she also said that she had kicked it. Future surgeries indicate that this was not the case.

After her facial feminization, Dragun's next time under the knife was for a breast augmentation in late 2016. In a January 2017 video, Dragun said she waited until she had been on hormones for over a year to get the surgery so that she had enough natural tissue growth to better support implants. She later had a second breast surgery to fix complications, but her nose is the biggest indicator of a preoccupation with surgery. In March 2021, Dragun posted a video detailing her fourth nose job in five years. "I haven't got surgery on my channel in a very, very, very, very long time. It's been like a year," she said. Though she has not discussed it, many fans and haters have speculated that Dragun has also had hip and/or butt implants or injections.

She has been critiqued for blackfishing and cultural appropriation

It would take a four-volume encyclopedia to properly cover all of Nikita Dragun's many controversies, but there are general problem areas that have become themes over time. Racial insensitivity is one of those areas, as Dragun has faced criticism for blackfishing and cultural appropriation for years now — ever since being featured with a darkened skin tone in a 2007 ad for Jeffree Star Cosmetics. "I'm half Mexican & half South East Asian and normally get extremely tan ...let's not trip over a spray tan," she commented at the time (via Teen Vogue). Dragun did not learn from this experience and continued to be called out for race-based missteps, such as attending the MTV Video Music Awards with a Black man on a chain (alongside two White men) in 2019, right around the time the news was covering a Black man being led by rope by police officers in Texas.

That same year, Dragun was criticized for cultural appropriation after wearing box braids during New York Fashion Week. Many celebrities have been similarly called out for appropriation and blackfishing — including Adele, Kim Kardashian (and a couple of her sisters), and Rita Ora — but the way that Dragun has responded to the critiques has only stoked the fire. For example, in 2020, she Tweeted, "what race is Nikita going to be today?" and then double-down when there was blowback from both the public and fellow beauty influencers (via Nylon). While it was most likely an attempt to gain headlines, the tweet did not win Dragun any fans.

The beauty company she started in 2019 is struggling

Given her immense success on YouTube, it was only a matter of time before Nikita Dragun developed a beauty line. Dragun's schooling in beauty marketing and product development gave her an edge that other influencers may not have had, and for a while, she seemed poised to become a huge mogul. Unfortunately, the star's many scandals and personal struggles have gotten in the way of her success in business, and no one really knows what is happening with her company, Dragun Beauty. Glossy reported that the makeup brand was "on hiatus" as of February 2023, and there is no active website for the company. The Dragun Beauty Instagram account has not had a single post since November 2022, just before Dragun ran into trouble with the law. 

Dragun Beauty made its debut in March 2019 with a focus on transformation and diversity. "I learned from 'Showgirls,' drag queens and amazing performers how to utilize makeup to transform yourself into whatever fantasy you wanted to be. It meant using the cheapest products and the craziest tools, which I essentially used to catfish people in my videos," she told Glossy. "In the beauty market today, there wasn't something that catered to trans women that was more than just checking off a box." The line's products sold out within its first 12 hours on the market, per Forbes, and remained popular for a while. Though its future is unknown, select Dragun Beauty products are still available on websites such as Amazon, Beauty Bay, and Mercari.

She had a two-season Snapchat docuseries

One of the reasons Nikita Dragun seems to have lost interest in YouTube is because she scored a big deal with another social media platform: Snapchat. Her videos dried up right around the time Dragun started production on "Nikita Unfiltered," a Snapchat docuseries tracking her life. The series — which has 1.92 million subscribers — put out 10 episodes in March 2020 (Season 1) and then another 10 episodes the following year (Season 2). "Having the opportunity to reach my audience, which is digital, through digital, I think that was a big thing, too. Sometimes creators make the jump over to traditional stuff, which is obviously amazing and fine, but I love being digital," she told Glossy. "Even I can't really sit through hour-long programming anymore, so having these 5-minute-long episodes was incredible."

The series' first season was viewed by 22 million Snapchatters and focused largely on dating, in addition to touching upon things like surgery and hormone shots. "You see me experiencing stuff that I feel like every day people go through in terms of dating. Every girl goes through their high school love or their college love or whatever it might be, but I've never experienced that before," she told Hollywood Life. Prior to "Nikita Unfiltered," Dragun appeared on the YouTube Premium series "Escape the Night," a reality series featuring influencers in fantasy and murder mystery plots. She also had her own radio show in early 2022, called "Dear Dragun" and hosted on Amp, a free live radio app that Amazon was testing out.

She dated former Survivor contestant Michael Yerger (probably)

There is still confusion over what truly happened between Nikita Dragun and former "Survivor" contestant Michael Yerger. This is partially because the two have very different accounts of their relationship and partly because things started off when Dragun hired Yerger to play her boyfriend in a now-deleted YouTube video from October 2018. Dragun freely admits to initially faking things but maintains that things turned real shortly after they met. They began appearing together in Instagram photos and filmed a "BOYFRIEND Q&A IN A LAMBO" video, which came out in March 2019. Still, with Yager claiming the whole thing was a hoax and Dragun claiming they were in love, it is hard to know the truth.

Dragun expressed her emotions in a July 2019 video entitled "I got my heart broken" and explained that she eventually realized Yerger was only using her to gain followers. She also said he cheated on her at Coachella and that he refused to claim her publicly or introduce her to his family and friends. "It really threw me because I never experienced that pain like that inner heartbreak," she said. "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 that I felt when this all happened." Dragun has dragged Yerger on a number of other occasions and has even commented on his subsequent relationship with influencer Daisy Keech. Following Yerger, Dragun was linked to TikToker Chase Stobbe.

She dabbled in music, but not without controversy

As with most things Nikita Dragun has done in the last handful of years, her foray into music was wrapped up in controversy of her own making. The star irked a lot of people when she put out a music video for the song "D*CK," and the outrage began before anyone even set eyes on the video or heard the lyrics. That first wave of criticism came from Dragun's promotional tactic, which utilized transgender icons from the past with the word "D*CK" over their eyes. People were offended that Dragun would disrespect deceased transgender icons like Sylvia Rivera in that way. When she dropped the video, Dragun also referred to herself as "Nikita Dragun, The First Trans Popstar," which further angered the transgender community.

Many noted that this declaration erased Sophie, the deceased artist who broke down doors in music for trans women and whom Kim Petras even thanked in her Grammy speech. Petras was the other key factor, as people were incensed that Dragun would disregard the transgender pop star. This is especially notable since they have a history, and Petras even cast Dragun in one of her music videos. The other big controversy over "D*CK" had to do with Dragun's exposure of screenshots from men who had messaged her, such as rapper Tyga and her ex-Michael Yerger. Rapper Asian Doll was also livid that Dragun used her picture without permission, but all of the controversy garnered the video preview over 5 million views on Instagram within that first week, per Vice.

She was diagnosed as bipolar after being involuntarily hospitalized

More and more celebrities have been opening up about their bipolar disorder, including big name stars like Demi Lovato, Mariah Carey, and Catherine Zeta-Jones. And since Nikita Dragun has always been very open about her mental health, it was not surprising when she too publicly disclosed her bipolar diagnosis. Dragun has since privated or deleted the video she created regarding her diagnosis, entitled "what happened," but since things live forever on the Internet, its contents are still readily available. "This is one of the hardest things for me to talk about," she started. "In some ways, I feel guilty for feeling this way. Today, I would like to share that I am bipolar and it feels really great to say that," she said (via Centennial World).

The star had already shared a bit about the incident on Instagram by that point, but details were spotty until the YouTube video painted a fuller picture. In the video, Dragun revealed that her diagnosis came after a manic episode led to her involuntary hospitalization. She recalled being found wandering the streets after her family kicked her out on Thanksgiving, after which she was handcuffed and held in a psychiatric ward for eight days. "There's another moment I won't get into, but like an altercation happened and I ended up in a police car," she said in the video. "I had to be evaluated from head-to-toe and I was placed under a detaining order, which basically means you're a threat to yourself or other people."

She joined the Hype House series to soften her image

Hype House is arguably the best-known creator collective, and some of the biggest names in social media — Charli and Dixie D'Amelio, Addison Rae, Thomas Petrou, and Chase Hudson, to name a handful — have cycled through there over the years. It was only a matter of time before the collective got its own reality show, even though influencer reality shows have not traditionally done very well. "Hype House" was released on Netflix in January 2022, with all eight episodes dropping at once. Nikita Dragun was one of the eight official cast members despite not having previously been affiliated with the collective (similar to her friend and co-star, Larri "Larray" Merritt). Interestingly, while critics hated the series, the Daily Beast called Dragun and Merritt its two "saving graces."

Dragun has said that she decided to join the series to show people a different side of her, one that is softer than what often comes across on social media. "It was very out of the blue. My friends are all in the Hype House and they had already shot a pilot for the show. They asked if I'd cameo as a friend and of course I went in with my wigs and everything, and the producers were like "who the f is this girl!?," she said in a Fault interview. "I did it to showcase my friendships and relationships because people only tend to see the drama, relationships and clickbait of my life and for once I just wanted to show myself as a friend and a sister."

She was misgendered and placed in a male prison when arrested

Many famous transgender and non-binary people deal with discrimination and mistreatment on a near-constant basis, and it often takes only one quick glance at their social media comments to make that very clear. They are also sometimes subject to offline discrimination, such as the time that Gigi Gorgeous was detained at the Dubai airport because of her gender identity. Like Gigi, Nikita Dragun had a very public situation where she was misgendered and treated unfairly, being put in a potentially dangerous situation because of being trans. It occurred in November 2022 after Dragun was arrested at Miami's Goodtime Hotel. Not only was Dragun misgendered in the affidavit, but she was reportedly transported to a men's prison.

The influencer was arrested after police were called to deal with her disorderly behavior, which included walking around nude and blasting music. When she threw water on a cop, Dragun was taken in on felony assault charges in addition to two misdemeanors. While it was undoubtedly her fault she was arrested, and while the arrest video paints a very ugly picture, in no instance should Dragun have been placed in a men's prison unit. "The situation with Nikita, who is legally female, being placed in a men's unit of a Florida jail is extremely distributing and dangerous," said a statement from her representative (via TMZ). While Miami-Dade corrections denied this occurred, there is a courtroom video of Dragun speaking to a judge about the situation, seemingly confirming her account of events.