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NBA star Dwyane Wade and actress Gabrielle Union have built a blended family rooted in love. Their inner circle includes their daughter Kaavia, born via surrogate in 2018, his nephew, and Wade’s children from previous relationships, including Wade’s 12-year-old child, who has come out as transgender.
In a February 2020 episode of The Ellen DeGeneres Show, Wade explained that his child, who was “originally named Zion, born as a boy,” now wants to be known as Zaya. The NBA player explained that the preteen initiated a conversation with her parents, and told them, “Hey, so I want to talk to you guys. I think going forward I’m ready to live my truth. I want to be referenced as “she” and “her.” I would love for you guys to call me Zaya.”
Wade described that moment. “Once Zaya came home and said, ‘I want you to call me Zaya and I’m ready to take on this,’ I looked at her and said, ‘You are a leader. And this is our opportunity to allow you to be a voice.'” He explained, “Right now it’s through us, because she’s 12 years old, but eventually it will be through her.”
If and when she’s ready to take on a more public role, her parents will be behind her every step of the way.
While sitting down for a chat on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, Wade opened up about his role as a father to his transgendered daughter, Zaya. “Me and my wife, Gabrielle Union, are proud parents of a child in the LGBTQ+ community,” he said. “And we are proud allies as well.”
“We take our roles and our responsibility as parents very seriously,” he said. “When our child comes home with a question, when a child comes home with an issue, when a child comes home with anything, it’s our job as parents to listen to that, to give them the best information that we can, to give them the best feedback that we can, and that doesn’t change because sexuality is now involved in it.”
However, the Miami Heat icon understands that parents may not always be immediately equipped to handle what their children need, which is why he says part of the adult’s responsibility is to seek out help. His family has gotten involved with an organization called GLSEN that focuses on supporting LGBTQ+ students. “It’s now our job to go out and get information, to reach out to every relationship that we have,” he said. In his case, he said Union “reached out to everybody on the cast of Pose,” a show that features LGBTQ+ performers. “We’re just trying to figure out as much information as we can to make sure that we give our child the best opportunity to be her best self.”
Dwyane Wade is being praised for supporting Zaya
Ellen DeGeneres praised the way Dwyane Wade was handling his daughter’s transition — and her “truth” — saying, “I think it’s what every parent should be is what you’re being right now, which is unconditionally loving your child and supporting your child in whoever they are.”
After the interview aired, plenty of people took to Twitter to share their thoughts and offer support. “Gender nonconforming children deserve to be heard, loved, and supported in their authenticity. @DwyaneWade + @itsgabrielleu continue to demonstrate phenomenal parenting with their love for Zaya!” one person tweeted. Another wrote, “Everyone deserves a father like Dwyane Wade. It shouldn’t make me cry so hard to listen to him talk about the simple act of loving his child.”
Even Pose star Angelica Ross took to Twitter to share, “I was so touched when @itsgabrielleu reached out! BOTH she and @DwyaneWade are so committed to getting it right as parents. So looking for[ward] to Queen Z schooling ALL of y’all!!!” We can’t wait for that either!
This isn’t the first time Dwyane Wade has openly and proudly supported Zaya. Back in June 2019, the family attended the Miami Pride Parade together. While talking about the event with Variety, Wade said, “I don’t really talk about it much because it’s [Zaya]’s story to tell.” However, he was willing to talk about his family as a whole, as well as his own role as a dad. “I think as a family, we should support each other. That’s our job. And my job as a father is to facilitate their lives and to support them and be behind them in whatever they want to do.”
The Miami Heat basketball star was asked if he had anything to share with other parents of LGBTQ+ children. “I think people expect you to parent each kid the same,” he said. “They are all different, and I have to get to know them and where they are. I have to say to most parents, get to know your kids. Don’t put your wants and needs on them.”
That’s good advice for all parents. Thanks, Dwyane.
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