Dwyane Wade remembers exactly what his 12-year-old child said when she came out as transgender.
“So once Zaya, our 12-year-old, came home — first Zion, I don’t know if everyone knows, originally named Zion, born as a boy — came home and said, ‘Hey, so I want to talk to you guys. I think going forward I’m ready to live my truth,’” the retired NBA star told TV host Ellen DeGeneres. “‘And I want to be referenced as she and her. I would love for you guys to call me Zaya.’”
Wade also remembers what he said at that moment.
“I looked at her and said, ‘You are our leader. You are our leader and it’s our opportunity to allow you to be a voice,’” Wade said on Tuesday’s episode of “The Ellen DeGeneres Show.” “Right now it’s through us because she’s 12 years old but eventually it would be through her.”
A video posted Tuesday by Gabrielle Union — Wade’s wife and Zaya’s stepmother — shows that the child already has a pretty strong voice of her own.
Meet Zaya. She's compassionate, loving, whip smart and we are so proud of her. It’s Ok to listen to, love & respect your children exactly as they are. Love and light good people. pic.twitter.com/G2lLVdD2VT— Gabrielle Union (@itsgabrielleu) February 11, 2020
“What’s the point in being on this Earth if you’re gonna try to be someone you’re not,” Zaya said in the video, which shows her and her father riding in a golf cart. “It’s like you’re not even living as yourself, which is like the dumbest concept to me. Just be true and don’t really care what the ‘stereotypical way’ of being you is. ... I think you push through and you be the best you.”
Last spring, Zaya (then known as Zion) marched at Miami Beach Pride with Union and older brother Zaire. Wade was playing with the Miami Heat at the time and was unable to attend, but he showed his support on social media.
Dwayne Wade and Gabby Union supporting young Zion at Miami Pride is so beautiful, I could cry. I can’t imagine having had this type of support as a kid (or even young adult). Amazing example of living in and showing unconditional love 💕 pic.twitter.com/2cT8Ow6kik— Câmi Thomas (@CamiCruzThomas) April 7, 2019
In December, Wade used the pronoun she in reference to his son.
“I’ve watched my son from Day 1 become into who she now eventually has come into,” Wade said on the “All the Smoke” podcast. “And for me it’s all about, nothing changes with my love, nothing changes with my responsibilities. Only thing I have to do now is get smarter and educate myself more.”
Dwyane Wade referring to his child Zion, 12, using she pronouns. "I've watched my son from day 1 become into who she now eventually has come into. Nothing changes w/ my love; nothing changes w/ my responsibilities. Only thing I got to do now is get smarter & educate myself more." pic.twitter.com/MeaOXL3cFk— Ξvan Ross Katz (@evanrosskatz) December 19, 2019
Wade told DeGeneres that he and Union have been doing just that.
“We take our roles and responsibility as parents very seriously,” he said. “So when our child comes home with a question, when our child comes home with an issue, when our child comes home with anything, it’s our job as parents to listen to that, to give them the best information that we can, the best feedback that we can. And that doesn’t change because sexuality is now involved in it.”
He added: “It’s our job to one, go out and get information, to reach out to every relationship that we have. ... We just trying to figure out as much information as we can to make sure that we give our child the best opportunity to be her best self.”