It’s Pride month, and if you’re looking for ways to offer support to the queer youth in your life, you’d be hard pressed to find a better example than that of former Miami Heat basketball player Dwyane Wade, who is a fierce advocate for trans rights on behalf of his daughter Zaya, 15.
Zaya came out as trans to Wade and wife Gabrielle Union when she was only 8 years old.
At a time when the rights of trans kids to play sports, access medical care, and simply exist openly as themselves are up for debate in state legislatures across the country, Wade spoke passionately about his daughter Zaya at the Time100 Summit on Tuesday. CNN’s Poppy Harlow asked him to comment on the ban on trans women and girls in sports that Louisiana lawmakers passed on Monday.
“To me it’s a joke,” Wade said. “This is our life. We live this.”
“Come and live in day in my world with my daughter,” he continued. “Come and see what it is to walk through this world as her.”
Proud of his daughter, Wade added that he fears for her safety. “As blessed as my daughter is to have parents who can support her, I’m still afraid every moment she leaves our house.” In addition to the gun violence all parents are worried about these days, Wade explained that he also fears for Zaya “because of the way that people perceive her in this world.”
Wade went on to address the hypocrisy of bills like Florida’s ‘Don’t Say Gay’ law, noting that in a time when all information is freely available online, we are forbidding our children from discussing it. “Our kids can go find out about all these things, but then it’s ‘Don’t talk about this in school,’ ‘Don’t do this in school.’”
“Why are we not talking about it? Why are we not educating our kids? Why are we not educating ourselves?” said Wade. “You can’t close the book on what somebody want, on how they feel they are.”
Wade spoke of his admiration for his daughter’s bravery, saying “I went years without telling my chef that I don’t like cilantro on my burger — as an adult, it took me years to have the confidence to say that,” Wade explained, by comparison. “My daughter, at 8 years old, had the confidence to say, ‘This is who I am. This is who I want to be.’”
Wade is father to Zaya and a son, Zaire, 20, with ex-wife Siovaughn Funches; a son, Xavier, 8, with Aja Metoyer; and daughter Kaavia, 3, with Union.
Wade and Union began speaking publicly about Zaya’s identity in 2020, with Wade telling Ellen Degeneres, “we are proud parents of a child in the LGBTQ+ community. And we’re proud allies as well.”
When Zion said, “I’m ready to live my truth,” Wade explained, he and Union felt a responsibility to gather “as much information we can to make sure that we give our child the best opportunity to be her best self.”
“You are a leader,” Wade told his daughter at the time. “This is our opportunity to allow you to be a voice.”