Dwyane and Zaya Wade are the Father Daughter Duo We Need Right Now
By Christine Siamanta Kinori
Dwyane Wade is a big name in the basketball world. He is also married to one of the most gorgeous and talented actresses in the universe, Gabrielle Union. It is not uncommon to see his name in the headlines. Of late, his name has been hitting the headlines as he exerts his influence to advocate for the trans community and his family.
In an interview with People Magazine, the basketball star shared his experience of raising a young trans daughter and why it is important to accept and create a safe world for the trans community. Wade’s daughter, Zaya came out as trans in 2020. Over the past few years, Zaya has cemented herself as a fashion icon and a role model for other trans youth.
In her 2023 interview with Dazed Magazine, Zaya noted that she takes being a role model seriously. The 15-year-old said, “I try to use my personal experience to broadcast the positives and also the negatives in life because a lot of LGBTQ+ youth go unrecognized in every way.”
Zaya went on to explain how she felt isolated in her early journey of self-discovery. It is one of the reasons she publicly came out. She wanted other queer kids to know that they are not alone. “ I felt so isolated, thinking there was no one else like me. And the percentage of trans adults versus trans children is such a wide difference.” Zaya told Dazed Magazine.
However one of the lessons she said she learned during this time is to protect her peace and it is a piece of advice she gives to fellow queer kids. As she explained, discovering who you are is a life-changing experience and it comes with a lot of stress, pressure and tension. It is therefore crucial to learn how to find inner peace in order to have the mental fortitude to handle it all.
It is clear that Zaya has been raised well and Dwayne has been doing a great job supporting her through this life-altering change. In his interview with Ellen DeGeneres, Dwayne said that he is proud of Zaya. He also spoke about how he and Gabrielle took it upon themselves as great parents to research and help Zaya in her trailblazing transition. They wanted to make sure that Zaya has the best opportunity to live her authentic life.
True to his words, Dwayne has stood by his daughter to protect Zaya even when it meant engaging in a legal battle with his ex-wife and Zaya’s biological mom, Siohvaughn. In November 2022, Siohvaughn filed a petition objecting to legally changing the name and gender of their daughter Zaya.
In the petition, Siohvaughn alleged that Dwayne was “profiting” from Zaya’s transition. She claimed that Dwayne is “positioned to profit from the minor child’s name and gender change with numerous companies through contacts and marketing opportunities including Disney and other well-established companies. Siohvaughn also claimed that she is concerned that Dwayne is “pressurizing their child to move forward with the name and gender change so as to capitalize on the financial gains.
Of course, Dwayn did not take these accusations lying down. He quickly came out to issue a statement calling the lawsuit “baseless and meritless,” He went on to clarify that his priority is his children and their well-being and said the lawsuit only inflames the situation and is harmful to Zaya. He asked his ex-wife to take time to meet with Zaya’s teachers, therapists and doctors in an attempt to understand their daughter’s needs. Thankfully, the court legally granted a name change and assignment of gender.
Dwayne has continued to speak up for LGBTQ+ rights and in particular the relentless anti-LGBTQ+ laws. It is part of the reason he moved his family out of Florida. He has also found himself trying to deal with homophobic basketball fans who have on some occasions jeered homophobic slurs at him while he was watching a game. It is obviously not easy but Dwayne continues to carry himself with grace and put his family’s safety first.
Basketball, like most sports, can in many cases breed toxic masculinity and a transphobic culture. It is therefore somewhat expected that some fans will see Dwayne’s support of Zaya as a problem instead of a blessing. Even though Dwayne is yet to broach this subject, he is doing a great job changing the narrative and advocating for trans rights in all fields of life.
As Rome was not built in a day, it will take a while for many basketball clubs and their fans to accept the LGBTQ+ community, but we are on the right path. Hopefully, we will continue to see more of Dwayne’s advocacy and support as he shows the world what great parenting to an LGBTQ+ kid looks like.
About the Author:
Christine Siamanta Kinori grew up in a little village in Kenya known as Loitoktok near the border of Kenya and Tanzania. All she wanted to do when she grew up was to explore the world. Her curiosity led her to join Nairobi University to pursue a degree in Journalism and Mass Communications. She later got a job with an amazing travel magazine Nomad Africa which gave her the opportunity to explore Africa. She also writes for numerous travel websites about Africa and tries to create a new narrative in the media about our aesthetic continent.
Christine claims to have somewhat unhealthy addiction to TV and reading, as it is a fun way to keep herself occupied during the long journeys for her travel writing. She is also a believer of letting people be their beautiful selves. To her, love is love and it is the greatest gift we have as humans.