Drag Race icon Aja announces return to drag and opens up about ongoing ‘gender journey’

Aja attends "RuPaul's Drag Race" season nine final in a stunning blue outfit

Drag Race alum Aja has announced she will return to drag after realising her ongoing “gender journey” isn’t incompatible with her artistic vision.

Aj announced in 2018 that they no longer identified as a drag performer. Aja explained to them that they “let go of the idea of being a drag queen” because they weren’t interested in doing the “stereotypical drag queen lip syncs and performs”.

“It’s me, it’s just an extension of my gender identity [they’re non-binary], and it’s my expression,” Aja said at the time.

Having spent recent years focusing on their music and performing with legendary ballroom house, the House of Labeija, Aja shared on Monday (6 September) that she is returning to drag having realised “trans is who I am and drag is what I do”.

The All Stars 3 star wrote that they have “battled a very intense sense of gender dysphoria since 2018”. They explained that they struggled with their identity “from an artistic standpoint” because they felt they were “embodying my trans identity and not an art form” every time they “dressed up”.

“I felt like I was beginning to understand who I was at the core and it was no longer a performance but my reality,” she wrote.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Aja LaBeija ? (@ajathekween)

They explained their viewpoint changed as they watched Kylie Sonique Love take home the Drag Race All Stars crown, becoming the first-ever trans woman to win a US season of the franchise.

Aja shared that watching Kylie win made her realise “that could be me” – “not necessarily winning Drag Race” but “being able to embody my own gender and identity and still be an artist”.

“It really hit me at that moment that trans is who I am and drag is what I do,” Aja wrote. “That me doing drag has never taken away from who I am as a person and that as a public figure I should have navigated that journey and situation better.”

They added: “It seems silly. But in reality this has been a crazy journey for me.

“The last three years have been full of ups and downs and not being sure of who I was or where I stand.

“But as of today I can feel comfortable to say that I am a drag artist again.”

The fearless performer wrote she “shouldn’t torture myself as an artist” because she is “on a gender journey”. She promised that she is “still working on music” and will “eventually be returning to the art of lipsync performance”.

A host of drag stars and even legendary Drag Race host Michelle Visage praised Aja for sharing their journey. Visage simply commented “BRAVA” followed by several clapping hangs emojis”.

Drag Race UK season two queen Ellie Diamond wrote that she is “so proud” of Aja and “your amazing journey into who you are today”. She added: “Can’t wait to see you back out there giving it to the children.”

Miss Peppermint described Aja as a “luminary” whose talent “shines through no matter what you decide to do”. She said the world is “very lucky to have even one more lip sync performance from you”.

Drag legend Trinity the Tuck also commented on Aja’s Instagram post, sharing her love for her former season nine competitor.

“I love u friend!! You don’t owe anyone an explanation for your journey,” Trinity wrote. “I support you being YOU!”

Aja previously spoke about their journey, telling followers that her pronouns are they/she but that she “accepts any pronouns said with love”.