Just before Valentine’s Day, proud father and retired NBA star Dwyane Wade professed his love for all of his children. While talking with Ellen DeGeneres, Wade told the host that he takes his duties as a parent very seriously and that doesn’t change when sexuality is involved.
From there, Wade went on to tell the world about his 12-year-old daughter Zaya, who was born a boy named Zion. “Once Zaya, our 12-year-old, came home and said, ‘Hey, so I want to talk to you guys. I think going forward I’m ready to live my truth. And I want to be referenced as she and her. I would love for you guys to call me Zaya.'”
Wade’s wife and Zaya’s stepmom, actress Gabrielle Union also publicly professed her love and support for Zaya on Instagram. After introducing her stepdaughter to her fans, she shared a video of Zaya talking about acceptance and self-love.
Dwyane Wade Says Our Daughter ‘Is Our Leader’
Now several days after the Wade-Union family announced their support for Zaya, Wade is opening up even more. The father of four and guardian to his adult nephew said he could tell early on in her life that Zaya was different.
In an interview with Robin Roberts while a guest on Good Morning America, he admitted that while it took him a little longer to be fully aware of Zaya’s gender identity, Zaya always knew. “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.”
Wade also noted that Zaya is staying focused on what is important to her, even with all the noise that has since been created since she came out; and that’s school. “She’s like, ‘Dad, I came out to everyone because I wanted to be me. And I’m thankful that I’m able to be me, but I need to focus on my school. You guys handle that.’ You know, she’s focused.”
And while Wade didn’t go into specifics about just how long he knew his daughter was transgender, he did explain the one thing that he was very conscious about throughout this journey, “I knew early on that I had to check myself.”
“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. 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, that I’m a gay boy, or that I’m a trans girl.” What are you going to do?’ And for me, that was my moment of real.”
The supportive father also admitted to “struggling” with how much and when to share his 12-year-old daughter’s journey with millions of people. Wade said he struggled because “yes, we understand that our daughter is 12 years old. We struggled with what people would say about a 12-year-old making a decision about her life, but we also know our child.”
Now, Wade just hopes he is doing his best for his daughter. And while some people may feel he is not, it’s the smile on Zaya’s face when he comes home that tells him he’s at least doing right by her.
He added, “I’m not going to sit here and act like we have all the answers. I’m not going to sit here and act like before our child sat us down that we weren’t ignorant parents when it comes to the world. When I say we’re learning from our 12-year-old, we’re literally learning from our child.”
“She’s our leader,” Wade said, before telling other parents out there to “have an open mind.”
Sara Vallone has been a writer and editor for the last four and a half years. A graduate of Ohio University, she enjoys celebrity news, sports, and articles that enhance people’s lives.
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