Dwyane Wade regularly speaks out against anti-trans bills and laws, connecting the nationwide onslaught of legislation to his feelings for his 15-year-old trans daughter, Zaya.
Zaya came out as trans in early 2020, when she was 12 years old, and Dwyane and his wife Gabrielle Union have supported her every step of the way. But Wade has admitted that raising a trans child, especially at this current juncture, is not easy.
“This is our life. We live this,” 40-year-old Wade said. “When you’re out there making rules, if you’re not experiencing this, come and live a day with my daughter. Come and see how it is to walk through this world as her.”
8/8 When Zaya Wade Came Out As Transgender
In an interview with Good Morning America in 2020, Dwyane Wade said that Zaya Wade knew she was transgender at three years old.
“I knew early on that I had to check myself,” he revealed. “I’ve been a person in the locker room that has been a part of the conversation that has said the wrong phrases and the wrong words myself.”
According to the basketball player, when Zaya was younger she used to dress up in women’s clothing. While he initially thought little of it, as she repeated to it, the couple prepared for upcoming conversations about gender and sexuality.
“I’ma tell y’all something,” he said as a part of a group conversation on the I Am Athlete channel. “[When Zaya was] three years old, me and my wife looked at each other was like ‘What if? What if she comes home one day and says dad I’m gay or dad I’m this or that.”
7/8 How Dwyane Wade Supports His Daughter’s Journey
Dwyane Wade and Gabrielle Union’s support for Zaya Wade has been a constant throughout her childhood. The couple backed her trip three years ago to Miami Pride and Wade has spoken about the importance of using proper pronouns.
“Just understand, our kids are gonna be who they are,” Wade explained. “It’s our job to help mold them and help try to push them in the right places that they want to go, but just remember that moment, what you said in that hospital the day that they were born.”
For the 6th Annual Truth Awards in Los Angeles, the couple took their daughter for her red carpet debut. They all wore color blocking, matching suits which made the genderqueer flag. “Everyone allow her to re-introduce herself her name is Zaya Wade!” Wade wrote in an Instagram post, “She has emerged as one of the young faces and voices for the LGBTQ+ community.”
“My child has the right and ability to be whoever they want to be in this life, and I’m going to make sure of it,” he also told reporters.
6/8 How Zaya Wade Changed The Way Dwyane Wade Talks About LBGTQ Issues
Dwyane Wade said having a trans daughter changed him in many ways. It not only changed the way he talked about LBGTQ issues, but also how he listened to things. It also pushed him to do research, reaching out to friends of his actress wife Gabrielle Union as his own circle of those who identify as LGBTQ+ was non-existent.
“I realized I needed to be better I needed to do more, and I needed to educate myself,” he said. This realization came in part from Zaya being in tears and in fear when she came out to her parents after the school assignment.
“It’s not our job and our responsibility to tell you who you are. You are going to be who you’re going to be. It’s my job to try to put you in the best positions to help you reach that goal to be who you want to be.”
5/8 Dwyane Wade Didn’t Want To Hide Zaya
“The reason we came out to the world was because I got tired of trying to hide my child,” Dwyane Wade has said. The basketball star and his Bring It On actress wife have said that they stopped posting photos of Zaya due to wanting to protect her from negative comments “[But] it came to the point where I said am I hiding her from it or hiding myself from it.”
4/8 Dwyane Wade Believes In Educating Kids
Dwyane Wade has also called out “Don’t Say Gay” laws like the one recently passed in Florida, which seek to ban LGBTQ+ content from classrooms.
Wade questioned the legislation, “Why are we not talking about it? Why are we not educating our kids? Why are we not educating ourselves instead of trying to close the book on it?”
“You can’t close the book on what somebody wants and how they feel they are,” Wade added. “We’re not gonna close the book on anyone being gay, bisexual, transgender — we can’t close the book on that. I just don’t understand.”
3/8 Dwyane Wade Fears For His Daughter’s Safety
Dwyane Wade speaks out against legislation because it causes him to fear for his 15-year-old daughter Zaya’s well-being.
“As sad as it is, as blessed as my daughter is to have parents who can support her, I’m still afraid every moment she leaves the house, and not just because of gun violence but because of the way that people perceive her in this world,” he explained.
2/8 Dwyane Wade Shares Heartfelt Message To Parents Of Trans Children
Dwyane Wade’s message to other parents of trans children is that everything is going to be okay.
“[Think of] the moment when you were in the hospital and you grabbed your daughter, and you looked at your daughter,” Wade told Variety at the Met Gala red carpet. “All the things that went through your mind and all the emotions that went through your mind. And how much love fills your heart at that moment. Don’t let that ever leave you, no matter what.”
1/8 Dwyane Wade Has Taken On Ex-Wife About Trans Rights
Dwyane Wade responded to allegations from his former wife Siohvaughn Funches-Wade, after she said in a court filing earlier this week that he’s trying to make money off their transgender daughter’s “name and gender change.”
She said in a statement Wade “may be pressuring our child to move forward with the name and gender change” in order to profit from business opportunities that Zaya was offered. She also argued that Zaya should have waited until she was 18 to decide if she wants to legally change her name.
“While none of us are surprised by Siohvaughn’s attempt to fight Zaya’s identity and her unwavering attempt to drag my name through the mud, I’m very disappointed that she continuously find ways of centering herself and HER needs, without regard to her children,” Wade wrote on Instagram. “This report came out while Zaya was in class. This is a kid who has maintained a 4.0 GPA in honors classes while navigating all this unsolicited and harmful attention and debates about her gender and sexuality from those who are committed to not listening to her, much less even knowing her!”
In an email to NBC News, Funches-Wade called her ex-husband’s Instagram remarks “derogatory,” “untrue” and “hurtful,” and she said she will continue to “love and protect” her children and do what “is best for them.”