Dwyane Wade is opening up about the life-changing moment when his daughter Zaya came out to him as transgender, and it’s a lot heavier than you may think.
Wade, who has been a passionate supporter of Zaya and the trans community since his daughter asserted her gender identity, had to do some deep reflective work in the aftermath of her coming out due to the fearful reaction she had toward him.
During the Creative Artists Agency Amplify event in California on June 27, Wade sat for a conversation with his friend and fellow NBA player, Chris Paul, as well as his manager, Lisa Metelus.
Metelus asked the former Miami Heat shooting guard about the “landmark moment” of Zaya’s coming out, and Wade revealed that he’d been expecting it in some capacity for a while. He explained that, at 8 years old, she described herself as gay in a school assignment, so her asserting an LGBTQIA+ identity of some sort seemed inevitable.
Recalling the day Zaya did decide to address her gender identity with Wade and her stepmom, Gabrielle Union, the NBA retiree shared, “I came home and I just remember my child being scared to talk to me, like hiding in my wife’s arm in a chair.” He continued, “I think I’m this dad that’s like, ‘Hey, come and tell me anything! I’m a cool dad.’ And it was fear in my child’s face to tell me and so I had to check myself.”
Doing Internal Work to Be a Better Parent
Wade admitted, “I had to go look myself in the mirror and ask myself: ‘Why was my child scared? Scared to tell me something about herself?’”
He explained, “In a lot of work as parents — and as people — what we do is we put our fears and everything on our kids. And I guess I was doing that. So I had to go look myself in the mirror and ask myself … What is it about my masculinity that has my child afraid?”
Taking ownership of our faults and shortcomings is never easy, and we deeply admire Wade’s ability to set aside his pride and ego to become a more understanding, empathetic parent for his daughter.
Bearing Public Commentary
The basketball icon also recalled sharing a Thanksgiving photo on social media in 2019, prior to Zaya’s public coming out, which resulted in a lot of hateful comments about his family.
The snapshot showed a 12-year-old Zaya wearing a crop top and acrylic nails while smiling next to Wade, Union, and her baby sister. “The world went crazy,” Wade said of the photo, adding that the most difficult thing to endure was the public’s “miseducation.”
“I became all kinds of things because I support my child and being who she is. I’ve become gay,” he scoffed, referencing a mislabel the ignorant people have thrust upon him for being an ally.
Wade added, “I think the hardest part about it is shutting out the world and shutting out the people that really are not in [our] circle. But they have opinions, and we are a public-facing family.”
Steadfastly Supporting Zaya
Through every hardship, including a tumultuous episode of allegations from Zaya’s mother, Wade has steadfastly supported his daughter in the way that every parent should stand by their child.
He even helped her obtain a legal name and gender change, which was approved by the courts in March 2023, three years after Zaya publicly came out as transgender. One thing we know, without a doubt, about this dedicated dad? He’s the blueprint for unconditional parental love.
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