"I don’t have to hide in the shadows as I make this journey."
Laganja Estranja is celebrating Pride month with a big announcement. The drag queen, who rose to fame on Season 6 of RuPaul’s Drag Race as one of the most quotable contestants ever, came out as trans on Tuesday, June 15. “I feel so empowered that I don’t have to hide in the shadows as I make this journey,” Estranja wrote on Instagram. “I am so proud to identify as TRANS and to be living my truth.”
Estranja opened up about her next chapter in an interview with Entertainment Weekly, revealing she deliberately came out before beginning hormone therapy in order to make a point about trans identity not being tied to external appearance. “Glam doesn't make you a woman; it makes you a woman to people outside, in the world,” Estranja said. “Gender is performative, and what we wear is an extension of what we feel on the inside. That's the real truth here: Once this is out and once people know, I'm going to be more free to explore what it means to be a woman on the inside. The dressing part? I've got it down, but that's not what makes you a woman.”
The drag artist also revealed she will continue to go by her birth name, Jay Jackson, when not performing as Laganja. She went into detail about how being unable to get a haircut during the coronavirus pandemic helped lead her to accepting her trans identity. “When my real hair started growing, I remember it touching the back of my neck, and that's funny, because wigs have touched the back of my neck forever, but it was my real hair; my real truth was physically touching me in a way.”
Estranja also credited her close friendship with her Drag Race castmate Gia Gunn as helping her along her journey. Gunn came out as trans shortly after Season 6 aired, and then returned for All Stars 4 as one of Drag Race’s first out trans contestants. “I'm so thankful that Gia didn't push me and has allowed me to take my time," Estranja said. "Of course she's encouraged me. From day one when we met, she was like, 'Oh honey, you're a woman!' She's known longer than I have!”
Gunn tweeted her support after Estranja came out.
Estranja joins a growing sisterhood of trans Drag Race alums who have shared their journey with fans, including Gunn, Kylie Sonique Love, Peppermint, Jiggly Caliente, Monica Beverly Hillz, Carmen Carrera, and Gottmik.