By Greg Hernandez
Nikita Dragun paid her first-ever visit to the Center’s Trans Wellness Center (TWC) just days after the YouTube star’s video calling out Victoria’s Secret for a transphobic comment went viral.
“It was so eye-opening,” Dragun said of her TWC tour. “It’s inspired me to want to be more involved and help in any way I can. It’s just amazing to know that there is a place like this for trans people. To see the amount of resources here and the efforts being made to better the community is incredible and so inspiring.”
TWC, a community-based partnership between the Los Angeles LGBT Center and five other local community organizations, was the setting for Dragun to talk about her video with a crew from ET Live, Entertainment Tonight’s new streaming network.
The video has been viewed more than 7 million times on Instagram. Dragun decided to quickly put together her own version of a Fantasy Bra commercial after Ed Razek, the chief marketing officer of Victoria’s Secret parent company L Brands, said during an interview that transgender models should not be featured in the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show.
In a message posted to her Instagram account, Dragun wrote: “Dear Victoria’s Secret, you said trans women can’t sell the ‘fantasy’ so here I am as a TRANS WOMAN selling the FANTASY! Everyone is beautifully unique. Embrace your differences. Stand tall in who you are! Live your fantasy and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.”
During her TWC visit, Dragun explained that the video originated “from a place of being really angry. I wanted to prove a point.”
“It truly wasn’t about me wanting to be a Victoria’s Secret model or about wanting to get hired by them,” she said. “It was about wanting to be this beacon of light to not only trans people but to other people and to say, ‘Hi, we’re here. You’re never going to stop us or limit us is whatever way you’re trying to.’”
While she is proud of the video, Dragun never expected such an overwhelming response to it.
“It was so crazy to me that it went viral overnight and that so many people around the world were so supportive of it,” she said. “It started this commotion and it really got people invested and angry and inspired to do something more about this and future stuff. This is one company of many that has made crazy statements and I think that they should be held accountable. Going into this new year 2019, transphobia is canceled.”
During her visit, Dragun connected with staff members at TWC, which brings together comprehensive services and resources for transgender and gender non-conforming people under one roof at its location in Koreatown.
“It was such a pleasure to have Nikita join us to share her journey with us,” said Johanna Padilla, a Health Services linkage and retention coordinator based at TWC. “I’ve watched her from her early years on YouTube and it’s so inspiring to witness her transformation into the brilliant, strong, and empowered woman that she is today. She is only 21 years old and has accomplished so much.”
Although this marked Dragun’s first visit to TWC, she began getting involved in the Center earlier this fall. She toured the Youth Center and The Village at Ed Gould Plaza and has made clothing donations.
“A long time ago, I really didn’t think there was a place for me,” she said, holding back tears. “Just seeing the housing facility for homeless youth and to feel the love there was incredible. To know that there’s a group of people working to better the community, it really warms my heart.”
The success of the video has Dragun vowing to continue taking stands on behalf of the LGBTQ community.
“A selfie is one thing, but helping and bettering the community is another thing,” she said. “I think this is just the start for me. The video was just one of my crazy ideas. I have so many more.”
To learn more about the Trans Wellness Center, visit MyTransWellness.org.