As Pride Month celebrations continue worldwide, many are finding the strength to live as their most authentic selves. This week, drag race fans currently sent into a frenzy as Laganja Estranja comes out as transgender. The RuPaul's Drag Race season 6 alum recently opened up to Entertainment Weekly about her finding her authentic self.
"I am so proud to identify as TRANS and to be living my truth, the 32-year-old later wrote on Instagram. "Happy PRIDE, you are beautiful as you are."
"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," Estranja said, in her interview with EW. "I'm not going to live my life in fear anymore."
Estranja, who plans to continue using her drag name while performing and her birth name (Jay Jackson) with those closest to her, previously¬†came out as gender nonbinary¬†in 2017, explaining to followers that she prefers feminine pronouns.
"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," Estranja told EW. "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."
How the support of friends aided in her coming out journey
Despite placing eighth during her time on Drag Race, Laganja made lasting memories and life-long friendships while on the show.
Friend and¬†RuPaul's Drag Race¬†costar Gia Gunn helped Estranga find herself. After Gunn,¬†came out as trans¬†in 2017, Laganja saw a positive change in her friend.
"I feel blessed to have had that experience," Estranja said. "Our transitions are different and will manifest in different ways, but it was so incredible to see someone live their truth and to be happy."
"I'm so thankful that Gia didn't push me and has allowed me to take my time," she added. "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!"
How Laganja thinks society can normalize trans existence
Laganja Estranja comes out amid a recent wave of celebrities sharing their journey to self-acceptance. In fact, she praised icons like Demi Lovato and Elliot Page for publicly shedding light on the subject and is excited to be a part of ending stigmas.
Her story comes during a time where transgender rights are most at risk. The United States is experiencing a surge of anti-LGBTQ bills up for debate in government.
In addition, this year is on track to be the deadliest for transgender and gender non-conforming people in the US,¬†according to the Human Rights Campaign.
HRC¬†has tracked fatal violence against transgender and gender non-conforming people since 2013.¬†As reported by Axios, at least 28 transgender or gender non-conforming people have been killed in 2021 so far.
"I'm going to be part of a wave of change," Estranja tells Entertainment Weekly. "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," Laganja adds.