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Dwayne Wade Talks Emotional Journey Raising Trans Daughter Zaya: 'I Realized I Needed To Be Better'

Dwayne Wade Talks Emotional Journey Raising Trans Child Zaya

Out, proud, and always learning!

We love that the Wade-Union family never shies away from being their authentic selves and showing the world why LGBTQ+ representation matters so much! Continuing his streak as a proud dad to transgender daughter Zaya Wade, Dwayne Wade dished all about what it was like raising a child whom he suspected might transition and how he’s changed his parenting since 2019!

Related: LOL! Gabrielle Says Dwayne Does NOT Like It When She Gets Naked On TV!

In Monday’s edition of I Am Athlete, Dwayne sat down with a group of podcast hosts to chat about his inspiring 13-year-old daughter, who knew she was female at the young age of three! The father of four opened up:

“I’ma tell y’all something. [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.’”

Like the true ally he’s become, the 39-year-old had a plan:

“So what I did when Zaya was three is I looked in the mirror and I said, ‘Yeah, what are you gonna do?’ Because you in a locker room where all the guys use is nothing but ‘you gay,’ you this, you that… So I’m in that locker room everyday. What are you going to do, sir, if your child comes home and says, ‘Dad, sorry, I don’t want no parts of basketball. I don’t want no parts of your life.’”

Breaking it down for his sporty friends, the NBA player explained how he had to realize his children “were not me,” including his athletic eldest son Zaire! What he quickly learned was that much of what he grew up hearing in his childhood no longer met the needs of the next generation. The dad explained:

“Growing up in the inner city of Chicago, in the hood, you’re told that boys do this: boys play football, boys play basketball, boys play baseball, boys date girls … whatever the case may be. I’m no different, I’m raised that way. I’m in the locker room, I’m saying all the things that people say.”

But all that changed instantly when Zaya was 8 years old and assigned to write a project describing herself for school. In it, she identified as Black and gay! Gabrielle Union‘s husband was grateful Zaya had a queer female teacher at the time to show young kids their LGBTQ identities were accepted! Just another reason we couldn’t love teachers more! The Miami Heat star continued:

“At that moment everything that I was taught went out the window and my sole job and responsibility was to make sure that this kid grew up knowing that they are supported and loved by the father and the other parent. That’s my only job.”

Yes, indeed, sir!! And it’s so evident in this conversation (below, starting at the 1:03:00 mark) that his friends remain inspired by the way Dwayne has been a champion of his child throughout this whole process. Asked to describe the “journey” following Zaya’s coming out, Wade noted:

“I realized I needed to be better I needed to do more and I needed to educate myself. 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.”

Without having any LGBTQ+ identifying friends, he reached out to the Bring It On star’s circle to find people to learn from. Most importantly, he just continues to have conversations with his teenage daughter! Because listening is really the best way to understand!

Related: Dwyane Recalls ‘Proud’ Moment His 12-Year-Old Officially Came Out As Transgender

But if you’re wondering why Zaya was hidden from social media until late 2019, there’s a meaningful reason:

“The reason we came out to the world was because I got tired of trying to hide my child. [But] it came to the point where I said, ‘Am I hiding her from it or hiding myself from it?'”

Now, Zaya has become an influencer in her own right! Even interviewing Michelle Obama! And her viewership on social media makes a big difference in the way queer people are accepted around the world, similar to representation in creative content. In the vid, Dwayne shouted out popular TV series Pose for casting a spotlight of the transgender experience of many. Ryan Jamaal Swain (who stared in the FX series) tweeted a clip to socials, stating: “VISIBILITY MATTERS.”

Simply put, D Wade has got his kid’s back no matter what and that makes us so happy! He concluded:

“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.”

So incredibly moving!! Watch the full interview (below) — it’s really worth a listen!

[Image via Zaya Wade/Instagram]

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Mar 25, 2021 14:00pm PDT