Now THIS is the Pride content we’re all here for!
RDR Season 6 legend Laganja Estranja has just come out as a trans woman!
She spoke at length to EW about her gender identity journey:
“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,” the 32-year-old recording artist and cannabis activist revealed. “I’m not going to live my life in fear anymore.”
Estranja says after “presenting as female for the last 10 years” as a drag performer, she eased into her identity while on the stage in a way that “made it more explainable to the masses,” but, in 2021, she’s living her truth for one person only: Herself.
“I do want to be able to express this at all times,” she continues. “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.”
For Estranja, getting to a place of comfort took time. She says she first told others she was nonbinary as both an easing-in for her and those around her, because she often felt trapped by the pressure to fit into the constraints of constructed gender.
“People think that when you’re trans that you’ve wanted to be a girl your whole life; yes, that’s partly true [for me], but it’s also true that I’ve wanted to be male my whole life to fit into what society deems as normal,” she explains. “But, that isn’t my truth, and I’m daring to take this on. I tried to be male and be in-between and nonbinary. The truth is I’m a feminine entity and I can live this life.”
Laganja says she doesn’t plan to change her drag name or her birth name; she’ll still perform as Laganja Estranja, and go by Jay among those closest to her, so she feels like she’s “not turning [her] back on” the bricks that built the woman she is today – many of which, she reveals, came to her in unexpected ways, like the time she remembers feeling her natural hair growing long enough to touch her neck for the first time last year, when the global pandemic interrupted her regular two-week haircut schedule.
“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,” she recalls.
She she feels it’s her responsibility to come out on a public platform during Pride month to help facilitate the journey for others who might be conflicted over their identities.
“Being a drag queen in itself is inherently political and being trans is even more so. As more people like Elliot Page coming forward as trans, like Demi Lovatocoming forward as nonbinary, the more the landscape can change, and the more that people have to accept the truth. Gender is a construct, and we’re all tearing it apart,” she says, noting that she’s partnering with the organization FOLX to help provide healthcare to other trans people.
“I’m going to be part of a wave of change,” she finishes, hoping that she can now use her voice to affect change both socially and politically – especially in a year where a record number of anti-trans bills have been introduced around the country. “I’m so happy. I feel so beautiful and empowered, and, finally, I’m looking back at who I am in the mirror, and it’s such an incredible feeling. If anyone is struggling with it, breathe and accept it, because once you do, it’s incredibly empowering.”
(via EW; photos: Laganja Estranja)