The news of Dwyane Wade embracing and loving his daughter Zaya has been a huge story. One because it’s a narrative we’re not used to seeing in the public eye. Zaya, who was assigned male at birth and named Zion, has chosen to identify as a girl and be addressed as such.
Not only is Zaya’s story unique, but so is the response of her Black parents. While I’m sure they’re are not the only Black family to accept their Black child identifying with a gender they were not assigned, this is one of the first times we’ve seen this acceptance displayed publicly.
So we keep talking about it.
Wade recently released a documentary about his life and, in addition to speaking about the things he’s overcome, he also shared a portion of Zaya’s journey. And it was not a conversation he took lightly.
In a sit-down conversation with Robin Roberts on “Good Morning America,” Wade shared that it was a struggle determining what he did and didn’t want to share about his daughter.
“We struggled with what people would say about a 12-year-old making a decision about her life. But we also know our child, right?…One thing we do know as a family, we’ve been through so many different things that other people and other families go through and they say, ‘Thank you guys for speaking out on it. Thank you guys for being the face and the voice of it because we can’t,’ ” Wade said. “And that’s what we’re trying to do. We know there’s other families out there that’s dealing with their kid, finding themselves and learning who they are.”
Wade shared that while the news is new to us, this is a conversation they’ve been having as a family for a majority of Zaya’s life.
“She’s known it for nine years. She’s known since she was 3 years old. Along this way we’ve asked questions and we’ve learned. But she’s known.”
When asked if he struggled with his own reaction to Zaya’s coming out as transgender, Wade admits he did.
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“I knew early on that I had to check myself. That’s what I knew. I knew early on that I had to ask myself questions. I’ve been a person in a locker room that has been a part of the conversation that has said the wrong phrases and the wrong words myself,” Wade continued. “As I got older and I watched my daughter grow, I had to go and look at myself in the mirror and say, ‘Who are you? What are you going to do if your child comes home and says, “Dad, I’m not a boy … I’m a trans girl.” What are you going to do?’ That was my moment of real.”
Wade shared that while many people may not agree with the way his family is handling this, he believes it’s the right move for his child and his family.
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Man, I remember bugging my mom as a kid telling her I wanted a brother so bad. I was the only child looking for company and someone to look after and take care of. I have been blessed to have my best friend, Zaya with me for 12 years. We did everything together…we fought, we played, we laughed and we cried. But the one thing we never did was leave each other behind… I’ve told you that I would lay my life down to make sure you are ten toes down and happy on this earth. I don’t care what they think Z, you are my best friend and I love you kid, and if it means anything, just know there’s no love lost on this side ✊🏾
Wade said that Zaya was the one who helped the family get on board.
She is the one who sat down with us as a family and said, ‘Hey, I don’t think I’m gay.’ And she went down the list. ‘This is how I identify myself, this is my gender identity, I identify myself as a young lady. I think I’m a straight trans because I like boys.’ So it was a process for us to sit down with our daughter and find out who she is and what she likes, and not put something on her.”
You can listen to Wade’s full interview in the video below.
FULL INTERVIEW: NBA superstar @DwyaneWade opens up to @robinroberts about daughter Zaya’s gender identity and why it was important to feature this journey his new @ESPN documentary. https://t.co/ZdCAUU3gAQ pic.twitter.com/Bf6xUJQvcx
— Good Morning America (@GMA) February 18, 2020
PHOTO: PR Photos