Drag queen Laganja Estranja just came out as transgender and said that her work in drag helped her explore her gender identity.
“There are so many other women around me who’ve inspired me to come forward today, and it’s because of their fight and their struggle that I’m able to really do this and say that I’m nervous, but I’m not scared,” she told Entertainment Weekly. “I’m not going to live my life in fear anymore.”
A choreographer, dance instructor, cannabis activist, and drag performer, Laganja is perhaps best known for participating in season 6 of RuPaul’s Drag Race, finishing in eighth place.
She was one of the most memed and quoted queens of that season, coming up with made-for-TV moments from the moment she entered the Werk Room saying, “Come on season 6. Let’s get sickening!”
She also appeared on season 15 of So You Think You Can Dance and has done choreography for big names like Miley Cyrus, Germany’s Next Top Model, and the NYC Cosmetics FACE Awards.
Laganja said that she has been “presenting as female for the last 10 years.” Being a drag performer made her identity “more explainable to the masses,” but now she wants the world to know that she’s a woman.
“I do want to be able to express this at all times,” she said. “I just got my haircut – a very feminine cut – and in one week already, my life has changed. I’m able to come off stage and take my makeup off and still see a beautiful woman in the mirror. It’s powerful.”
She said that she just came out to her family last week and that they were “incredibly supportive.” She’s keeping her first name – Jay – and she’s going to keep using the same drag name that made her famous.
Laganja stressed that it’s only “partly true” that she “wanted to be a girl [her] whole life.”
“But it’s also true that I’ve wanted to be male my whole life to fit into what society deems as normal,” she said. “But, that isn’t my truth, and I’m daring to take this on. I tried to be male and be in-between and non-binary. The truth is I’m a feminine entity and I can live this life.”
Several other Ru girls have come out as trans since their appearances on the show, including Sonique, Jiggly Caliente, and Carmen Carrera, as well as Gia Gunn, who appeared on season 6 with Laganja.
“I’m so thankful that Gia didn’t push me and has allowed me to take my time,” Laganja 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!”
“I want to thank all the trans brothers and sisters that came before me who fought so that my coming out could be joyous!” she wrote on Instagram. “I am so proud to identify as TRANS and to be living my truth. Happy PRIDE, you are beautiful as you are.”