How controversial YouTuber Trisha Paytas has transformed their image in 2021

Trisha Paytas, a longtime YouTuber, admitted troll and staple in modern internet culture, practically invented the phrase “no stranger to controversy.”

Drama has followed the 32-year-old nonbinary creator through every phase of their career, from reality TV staple to massively successful YouTube personality with 4.8 million subscribers on their main channel and 1.3 million more on their vlog page.

Paytas has posted Mukbangs, tearful confessional videos, music videos and countless controversial posts since their channel began in 2007, but they are best known for their “will prob delete. prob offensive,” attitude, as they captioned a TikTok in 2020.

In October 2020, Paytas said they started seeing a therapist for their mental health issues and deleted all their problematic videos. Fans were excited to see if starting therapy would result in an actual change or if this was just part of a ploy to gain subscribers.

In 2021, Paytas’ reputation greatly changed after they played a role in the downfall of Vlog Squad leader David Dobrik

We’ll get there, but for now, let’s unpack Trisha Paytas’ controversies — or at least some of the bigger ones.

Japanese pop star character ‘Trishii’

In Paytas’ early videos, they played a character called Trishii, who was supposed to be a Japanese pop star. Their portrayal involved dark makeup and what many perceived to involve racist stereotypes against Asians.

In 2011, they shared a music video starring Trishii, which they have since taken down. (Evidence of its existence still remains, as it has been re-uploaded to several different channels.) A year later, they said the music was taken down because a participant asked them to remove it after it faced “backlash.”

“I didn’t think it was bad, it was supposed to be a parody,” Paytas said in a 2012 video

Trolling for views

In 2015, Paytas admitted to Business Insider that they posted a number of YouTube videos just to get views, such as one in which they claimed “dogs don’t have brains.”

They added that they thought “dumbing [them]self down” would get attention and views.

“I just have this constant need for attention,” they told Insider in a different interview. “Maybe that’s a bad thing, maybe not, but it’s how I thrive.”

In a March 2021 TikTok, Paytas acknowledged that they “had a comment about everything” going on in the YouTuber world even though drama gives them “anxiety.” Commenters praised their self-awareness.

In an episode of their podcast “Frenemies,” they also acknowledged that they sometimes search for drama in order to get views, because views on YouTube are what makes them money. 

‘Coming out’ videos

In 2016, Paytas faced backlash over a coming-out video in which they claimed to identify as a chicken nugget.

“When you feel like a chicken nugget, you feel like … not delicious,” Paytas said. “Well, you feel delicious, but you also feel, like, fried. And fake on the inside … I’m pink goop and now I’m a chicken nugget.” 

“I don’t think I should be considered crazy for identifying as such,” they added.

Paytas shared another video in 2017 titled “i’m no longer a person” in which they walked around in their underwear with a trash bag over their head and said they no longer wanted to be known as Trisha, a woman or anything else. 

“Because I no longer have an identity,” they said. “I don’t want to be made fun of or compared to my videos because they are no longer me. I am stepping back from a persona, from a person that is Trish.”

Though both videos were mostly teased for being absurd, many took offense to their 2019 post in which they claimed to be transgender.

In the footage, which has since been deleted, they said they identified as a gay man who likes to dress in drag because they are attracted to gay men and loves “glam.”

They faced backlash in the comments and across social media for making light of LGBTQIA+ issues.

Paytas insisted they weren’t trolling, invited people to ask her questions and doubled down on their claim on an appearance of the show “The Doctors.”

In April 2021, Paytas announced they are non-binary and said they use “they/them” pronouns. 

“That seems like the perfect label for me,” they said. “I have days where I really identify as he/him, I really identify as a man… [but] because my shell a lot of the times doesn’t match that of a male, I’m more of a cis female or a girlie girl or a drag queen or whatever, people don’t really understand it.”

They doubled down on their defense of the earlier transgender video, saying, “it came across as bad and wrong and I didn’t know ‘nonbinary’ back then. I really just thought, ‘I’m really a male.'”

Past relationships and break-up drama

In their 2016 video titled “who was my worst boyfriend ever,” Paytas detailed their past relationships with “The Breakfast Club” actor Anthony Michael Hall, whom they dated from 2008 to 2013, and “The Producers” actor Roger Bart, whom they were with from 2013 to 2015.

Paytas also dated Sean van der Wilt for a year. They posted click-friendly videos and made a music video before their time together ended with Paytas’ bombshell video titled “he cheated. I’m done.

Their next upload, “Sean Van Der Wilt Is Gay,” faced enormous backlash as commenters said they publicly outed their ex-boyfriend without his consent after they said they caught him kissing another man.

Paytas admitted they “hooked up” with Aaron Carter and said he unfollowed them on Twitter immediately after, which ignited a feud during which they exposed each other’s Twitter DMs. Paytas later tweeted that they are like brother and sister, so they must have made up.

In perhaps their most notorious relationship to date, Paytas was on and off with fellow YouTuber Jason Nash for about a year. They appeared in a number of Vlog Squad videos, which Nash was a part of with David Dobrik.

Nash and Paytas broke up briefly at least twice — once because they thought he called them overweight, and another time because he kept joking about having a threesome with influencer Tana Mongeau. Both times they made response videos directed at each other, but rekindled their romance.

The two split for the final time in February 2019. Paytas revealed the breakup in an emotional video filmed on their kitchen floor — a type of video that would soon become their signature.

David Dobrik feud

Following their split from Nash, Paytas ignited a feud with Nash’s best friend, David Dobrik.

In a video that has since been deleted, they called Dobrik “creepy and disgusting” and compared him to serial killer Ted Bundy — a shocking statement against one of the most popular vloggers on YouTube then known for his upbeat prank videos.

They continued to bring up their beef over the past few months, but Dobrik has refused to comment since he apologized in 2019 for joking about Nash’s interest in then-20-year-old Mongeau.

Everything changed in early 2021 when Paytas began bringing up their beef with Dobrik on their podcast with co-host Ethan Klein. 

In February, Nik “BigNik” Keswani went on the H3 podcast, which Ethan hosts without Paytas, and said Dobrik’s Vlog Squad was “toxic” and like a “cult.” 

Another former member, Seth Francois, who is Black, spoke about racist jokes and skits he was involved in while part of the group. He also alleged he was sexually assaulted by Nash while filming a prank in a 2017 vlog.

From there, investigations into bad behavior in the collective creator continued until Dobrik apologized twice for his actions — once in response to rape allegations from anonymous women and again once that first apology was poorly received — resulting in lost endorsements and subscribers. 

Paytas and Ethan are credited with playing a major role in bringing those allegations to light, ultimately challenging the reputation of a man once considered one of YouTube’s most “wholesome” creators. 

Gabbie Hanna feud

In November 2019, drama erupted between Paytas and fellow YouTuber Gabbie Hanna when Paytas uploaded a video claiming that Hanna harassed and talked badly about them.

“She’s a freaking drama queen and I’m a freaking drama queen,” Paytas said in the video. “I don’t think about her ever.” 

Paytas said Hanna told Paytas’ then-boyfriend Jason Nash that Paytas had herpes. Paytas has always vehemently denied having the STD.

“It wasn’t my business to know if trisha had herpes, i have no reason for her to tell me. it WAS my business to warn a friend that he might be at risk,” Hanna tweeted in response. “know what i mean? asking her would just be gossip. telling him to be safe and find out is caring for his health.”

In September 2020, Hanna released a diss track about Paytas called “Call Me Crazy,” in which she called Paytas “insecure” and “self-obsessed.”

Ethan Klein feud

In May 2019, Paytas called out YouTuber Ethan Klein, who runs the H3 podcast with his wife Hila Klein, for fat-shaming them in a video titled “Instagram vs. Reality.” In a tweet, they called him a “disgusting piece of s***” and said the video was “harmful for young girls.” Two days later, they asked to appear on the podcast.

Their relationship continued like this for months — Klein would bash something Paytas did, they would confront him about it and then the two would collaborate.

In Feburary 2020, Ethan and Hila decided they wanted to help Paytas find love by starting a “Bachelorette”-style dating show.

On one episode, Paytas expressed interest in Hila’s brother, Moses. They met up when the show was put on hold due to social distancing guidelines. 

“At the end I won the bachelorette. Thank u @h3h3productions,” Paytas tweeted a few days after.

In December 2020, Moses and Paytas announced their engagement

There’s been tension between Ethan and Paytas since 2019, but on Sept. 15, they launched a podcast together called “Frenemies.” 

“I wonder how many episodes we make before this whole thing is burned to the ground,” Ethan said in the first episode.

They fought in many of the early episodes, with Paytas storming off set multiple times, but have since referred to each other as “best friends.”

Together, they’ve forced their audience to confront the behavior of many controversial creators, such as Dobrik, Nikita Dragun, Shane Dawson and James Charles

In March 2021, Paytas shared a TikTok that showed clips of Ethan making fun of them in the past. They laughed it off and said, “he came around.” 

Feud with Keemstar

Paytas is a common topic of conversation on the YouTube gossip channel DramaAlert, which is hosted by Keemstar.

The two often feud — in August 2019, he quote-tweeted someone who said they had recovered from a crystal meth addiction, saying “Congrats! Hopefully this gives some inspiration to @trishapaytas!”

“Ur bullying causes actual death,” Paytas responded in a tweet. They also called him the “literal devil” and said “this isn’t cute.”

They bicker back and forth constantly.

Feud with Nikocado Avocado

In May 2019, YouTuber Nikocado Avocado went viral with a video titled “Exposing Trisha Paytas With Receipts.” He claimed that Paytas ghosted him when they were supposed to film together several years ago.

They slammed him in a series of livestreams and videos, but he responded by making their DMs public. This led Keemstar to declare Paytas #canceled.

At first, they told Perez Hilton there’s nothing wrong with ghosting someone, but later backed down on that and said they were going through a breakup at the time.

A few months later, Paytas and Nikocado Avocado filmed Mukbang videos together on their kitchen floor in which they ate take-out and discussed the drama between them.

Marriage to a Brad Pitt cardboard cutout

After teasing a wedding for weeks, Paytas revealed in November 2019 that they married a cardboard cutout of Brad Pitt. 

“I never thought I would find someone who wouldn’t leave me, and who wouldn’t talk back to me and judge me for being crazy,” Paytas said in their vows. “This is real and this means a lot. From the moment I got you in the mail, I knew this would last forever.”

Commenters were both annoyed and amused by the trolling, but it was a relatively harmless stunt that has no bearing in reality — especially as Paytas got engaged in late 2021. 

False Dissociative Identity Disorder diagnosis

In a 20-minute video shared in April 2020 titled “Meet My Alters,” Paytas claimed to have Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) and “multiple personalities.”

In addition to using incorrect terminology to describe their “alters,” Paytas admitted that they have never been formally diagnosed with the disorder.

DID is no joke — the disorder has many diagnostic criteria and requires long-term treatment overseen by a professional. There is no known cause of the disorder, but many people with the condition say they experienced a traumatic event during their childhood. 

YouTuber DissociaDID, who identifies as a DID system, outlined everything Paytas got wrong about the disorder in a video. Many people called Paytas out for faking and making light of a serious condition.

Paytas posted a video in response in which they claimed to have caught themself switching between alters on camera.

They have since deleted all of these videos, calling them “problematic.”

Feud with Shane Dawson and Jeffree Star

Paytas and Shane Dawson, longtime friends, had a falling out after Dawson failed to defend them in a feud with Jeffree Star. 

Though Dawson has faced allegations of racist, pedophilic and generally problematic content over the years, Paytas became friends with him in 2014 stayed loyal to him until 2021. 

Star became friends with Dawson in 2017 when they began collaborating on makeup videos. Paytas was also involved in a few projects, with Dawson naming a shade of eyeshadow in his collection for Star’s makeup company “Trisha.”

In February 2020, Star took Paytas to Las Vegas in a now-deleted vlog. Paytas left the trip early, and it wasn’t until January 2021 when the general public found out the extent to which Star and his friends, including stylist Hair by Jay, had been making fun of Paytas’ skin and weight.

Dawson issued a long-awaited apology for his past behavior in June 2020. Though some said the video fell short, Paytas continued defending him on their podcast until January 2021, when Paytas and Ethan called Dawson out for not defending Paytas in their feud with Star. 

A day later, Dawson’s fiancee Ryland Adams addressed his fallout with Paytas in an episode of his podcast, “The Sip.” He claimed he didn’t know about Star’s comments, but received so much backlash from fans, he turned off the comments on the video. 

One day after that, Paytas responded in a video called “Shane and Ryland are LITERAL SCUM OF THE EARTH,” in which they called Dawson “manipulative.” Dawson has stayed off social media since the summer of 2020, but it appears this friendship is over for good.

Feud with Nikita Dragun

In late March 2021, controversial beauty guru Nikita Dragun posted about the upcoming second season of her reality show, Nikita Unfiltered, saying, “Cancel me as many times as you want… my show is still running.” This was in reference to James Charles losing his hosting gig on YouTube’s Instant Influencer show. 

Paytas responded, teasing Dragun for the fact her show airs on Snapchat. They were then criticized for starting drama with Dragun, who is transgender, on March 31 — Trans Day of Visibility

“Trisha haven’t [you] done enough to the Trans community? There’s no need to downplay [my] or any Trans woman’s accomplishments,” Dragun said, referring to Paytas’ now-deleted video in which they came out as transgender.

Paytas responded by telling Dragun to wear a mask (she’s been criticized for wearing a half-face shield that doesn’t meet CDC guidelines) and criticizing her for hanging out with Tony Lopez, who has been accused of inappropriate behavior with underage girls. 

The two went back-and-forth for multiple tweets, with Paytas caling out Dragun for her current allegedly bad behavior, and Dragun firing back with criticism about Paytas’ past. 

This marked a sort of turning point for Paytas — instead of criticizing them for something they’ve recently done, Dragun dug into her past to cite things that Paytas apologized for and worked to correct. Their level of sincerity is something that only Paytas can know for sure, though, of course.

There’s no denying that Paytas is a complex character who has faced a number of shortcomings, yet made strides to better themself.

“Call out problematic behavior that’s currently being played out – can’t change the past , only learn from it,” they tweeted in April 2021.

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