Dwyane Wade recalled during a recent appearance on “The Ellen Show” the “proud” moment his 12-year-old, Zaya, came out as transgender to him and his wife, actress Gabrielle Union.
Ellen DeGeneres commended Wade, who has been an outspoken supporter of Zaya, saying that by unconditionally loving and supporting his child, he exemplifies what every parent should be.
“There are so many parents,” DeGeneres said, who “freak out” when their children “don’t go the way” they imagined. But she said Wade was so loving and supportive.
“First of all, me and my wife, Gabrielle Union, we are proud, when I say proud, we are proud parents of a child in the LGBTQ+ community,” Wade, a retired NBA star, told DeGeneres in a clip posted Tuesday to the YouTube channel for her talk show. “And we’re proud allies, as well. And we take our roles and responsibilities as parents very seriously.”
Wade said that when his child comes home with a question, an issue or a concern, it is his and Union’s jobs as parents to listen and give the best information and feedback.
“That doesn’t change because sexuality is now involved in it,” he said. “And so, once, Zaya, our 12-year-old, came home … and said: ‘Hey, I want to talk to you guys. You know, 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 said it is now his and Union’s jobs to “go out and get information, to reach out to every relationship that we have,” adding that Union reached out to everybody on the cast of the FX show “Pose.”
“We’re just trying to figure out as much information as we can to make sure that we give our child the best opportunity to be, you know, her best self,” Wade said.
DeGeneres told him that “it must be a scary thing, because it’s one thing for you to love her and your wife to love her,” but that he must just want everyone to love Zaya the same way.
“Exactly,” Wade responded. Wade said that after Zaya came out, he looked at her and said, “You are a leader, and it’s our opportunity to allow you to be a voice. Right now, it’s through us, because she’s 12 years old, but eventually it will be through her.”
After the clip of Wade went viral, Union shared a video on her Twitter and Instagram accounts of Wade and Zaya riding in a golf cart with the caption: “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.”
In the nearly minute-and-a-half video, Zaya asks: “What’s the point of being on this Earth if you’re going to try to be someone you’re not? It’s like you’re not even living like yourself, which is, like, the dumbest concept to me.”
“Be true and don’t really care what … the stereotypical way of, like, being you is,” Zaya also says in the video.
Wade responds: “Even when people are being mean and even when people are getting hurt because they’re trying to be themselves? And even through that, you still want people to make sure that they live their truth?”
“Yeah,” Zaya responds. “I think, I know they can get tough. Definitely. But I think you push through and you be the best you.”
In a separate tweet, Union thanked everyone who provided information, resources, love and encouragement. “We are humble LGBTQ+ allies with ALOT to learn & grateful for all the support. We encourage yall to check us as needed,” she wrote.
The couples’ response met with praise online.
“We hope one day ALL LGBTQ youth can have loving, supportive parents like” Wade and Union, the Human Rights Campaign said in a tweet.
Angelica Ross, a transgender actress and advocate who stars in “Pose,” also expressed support.
“I was so touched when @itsgabrielleu reached out! BOTH she and @DwyaneWade are so committed to getting it right as parents,” Ross tweeted, in part.
Janet Mock, a producer on “Pose,” wrote in a tweet: “We LOVE to see it! Black parents exhibiting that unconditional love for their child who’s doing the courageous work of being her perfect trans girl self in a world that ain’t yet ready. We got you Zaya, @gabunion @DwyaneWade & fam!”
In December, Wade responded to social media users who criticized the appearance of Zaya, who wore a cropped top and white nails in a family photo.
“As a parent my only goal is that my kids feel that I see them, love them and support them,” he wrote in a tweet.
In an interview over the summer, Wade told Variety that he had supported Zaya’s attending the Miami Beach Gay Pride parade in April. Zaya is one of Wade’s three children from a previous relationship. Wade and Union are also parents to Kaavia James, who was born via a surrogate in November 2018.
“I think as a family, we should support each other. That’s our job,” Wade said in the June interview. “And my job as a father is to facilitate their lives and to support them and be behind them in whatever they want to do.”