Former NBA star Dwyane Wade is urging parents to support their kids and do proper research after his daughter Zaya came out as transgender.
Speaking Tuesday to host Robin Roberts on “Good Morning America,” Wade confirmed Zaya gave him permission to talk about her story and opened up about what the process has been like for the 12-year-old, who Wade said had known her gender identity since she was 3.
Wade, 38, first revealed his daughter’s announcement during a Feb. 11 appearance on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” speaking about how he supported his child since she told her parents she wanted to be referred to using female pronouns.
Dwyane Wade, son Zaire, Gabrielle Union share support for 12-year-old Zaya, pronoun change
The bottom line for Wade and wife Gabrielle Union: Making sure Zaya knows they support her wholeheartedly.
“This is her life every day. This is no game to us,” Wade said Tuesday. “We’re all about protecting her heart, we’re about protecting her joy and to do that, we have to support her.”
Wade said Zaya was the one who began doing research on gender identity and approached her family.
“‘I don’t think I’m gay,'” he recalled her saying. “‘This is how I identify myself. This is my gender identity. I identify as a young lady. I think I’m a straight trans (girl) because I like boys.'”
Wade said he didn’t know anyone who came out as a member of the LGBTQ community when he was growing up and realized “early on” with Zaya he had to evaluate himself to help his child. He and Union sat down “together as a family” and did research and outreach on their own to learn how they could best support Zaya. Union even reached out to cast members from the FX show “Pose” – a drama series centered around black and Latino LGBTQ characters – for advice.
“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 said. “And as I got older and as 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 said his family understands that being in the public eye means they can help others by speaking out. He advised other parents to keep their minds open, do their research and have conversations with their kids.
He is also father to Zaire, 18, and Xavier, 6. He and actress Gabrielle Union, 47, welcomed daughter Kaavia in November 2018.
“We know there’s other families out there dealing with their kid finding themselves and learning who they are,” Wade said. “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 came home and 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.”