Kat Blaque is not just any other girl. She is amazingly talented, wonderfully witty, and fiercely intelligent. Blaque has a gift for words, but not in the usual way. She is subtle and charming. She is soft yet strong.
She’ll educate and inform you without you even realizing it. On her YouTube channel, in fun segments like “True Tea,” where she answers viewers’ questions, Blaque casually communicates complex ideas in a way almost anyone can understand. She gives great advice. “Oftentimes, what we’re actually good at is not necessarily what we’d like to be good at,” she says.
At 26, Blaque is regularly invited to speak at colleges, often in conservative areas, on social and political topics. Her YouTube videos are shown as educational tools in classrooms, which she finds very affirming.
Blaque says that YouTubing — and recent political upheavals — helped her understand the importance of communicating. “One of the things that the election taught me, was that there are a lot of people not talking to each other. A lot of us — and it’s a both sides thing — we dismiss each other based on whatever straw men we had of each other’s positions.”
Blaque spent her early years training to be an artist and animator. Since the fifth grade, Blaque had big plans to attend the California Institute of Arts and become an animator. It was a goal she did eventually achieve, but by then, becoming a vlogger had changed her life — and her goals.
“I had a fairly popular blog when I was 14 years old,” Blaque recalls. “I would talk about my life.” In 2005, she started her own YouTube channel. “I took the $25 that my parents gave me every week, that I would usually spend on Sims expansion packs, and saved up and got a webcam. I started making my little videos and it was very therapeutic. I would just talk about absolutely any and everything that was on my mind.”
That included her gender identity. When she first started vlogging, Blaque says she identified as genderqueer. “But,” she says, “when I went to college, I realized that I wasn’t genderqueer. I was a very binary, straight trans woman.”
Despite Blaque’s current openness about being trans, she says the first few years after realizing she was trans, she worked hard at being stealth (a term used to describe someone who chooses not to be out about being transgender). Although she spoke openly in her videos, very few people in Blaque’s personal life knew she was trans.
“There’s a lot of privilege that comes with being able to pass,” Blaque says now. “That’s where I was content.”
But soon after she did a video about pronouns for BuzzFeed, her online popularity began to soar — which led to her being outed to her boyfriend’s family.
At first, she was mortified. “As a trans person, you oftentimes feel that your transness is going to ruin you.”
Fortunately, that wasn’t the outcome for Blaque. “I recognized, even within that moment,” she says, “me being out wasn’t necessarily something that was going to end my career.” Her boyfriend’s family also turned out to be remarkably understanding. And being visible wasn’t as terrifying as she’d imagined — which has given her the freedom to be the example that she never had.
“I have the opportunity to be that representation for other people, so why not? I know how it felt to not have that,” she says. “It became very important to me to go outside of my comfort zone, if only to open people up to the fact that there are people that are like me.”
Kat was photographed by Tony Donaldson; Grooming by Blondie for Exclusive Artists using Skyn Iceland and MAC Cosmetics; Wardrobe stylist: Aisha Rae; Assistant stylist: Angel Cross; Photo assistant: Corey Kirk.