Dwyane Wade Shows The Power of Supporting LGBTQ+ Children

Retired NBA star Dwayne Wade is 100 percent behind his daughter, who identifies as a transgender girl, and isn’t afraid of who knows it. In an interview on “Good Morning America,” Wade revealed that daughter Zaya Wade knew she was transgender at the age of three.

“Zaya has known it for nine years,” Wade told Robin Roberts. The 38-year-old father acknowledged that he knew early on that he had to “check” himself and that he has “said the wrong phrases and the wrong words myself.”

Wade said his 12-year-old daughter was instrumental in teaching him and the rest of the family about her gender identity and the transgender community.

“Zaya knew two things: she knew straight and she knew gay. But Zaya started doing more research. She was the one who sat down with us as a family and said, ‘Hey, I don’t think I’m gay.’ And she went down the list and said, ‘This is how I identify myself. This is my gender identity. I identify myself as a young lady,’” he said.

The retired basketball player also said he hopes that he’s doing right by his daughter as she navigates living her truth. “My daughter was my first interaction when it comes to having to deal with this conversation,” he noted. “Hopefully I’m dealing with it the right way. …Inside our home we see the smile on my daughter’s face, we see the confidence that she’s able to walk around and be herself and that’s when you know you’re doing right.”

Earlier this month, Wade appeared on “The Ellen Show” to talk about his daughter and how proud he is of her. Wade told TV show host Ellen DeGeneres that he and wife Gabrielle Union were “proud parents of a child in the LGBTQ+ community.”

Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade hugs his daughter Zaya after the Heat defeated the Milwaukee Bucks 91-85 in an NBA basketball game on Feb. 9, 2018, in Miami. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

During the show appearance, Wade revealed for the first time that his 12-year-old, who was assigned male at birth, now goes by the name Zaya.

“Once Zaya came home and said, ‘I want you to call me Zaya and I’m ready to take on this,’ I looked at her and said, ‘You are a leader. And this is our opportunity to allow you to be a voice,’” he said. “Right now, it’s through us, because she’s 12 years old, but eventually, it will be through her.”

How To Support Your LGBTQ+ Child

It’s often not easy for LGBTQ people to come out to their families or friends, but there are plenty of resources to make that experience easier.

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the largest LGBTQ advocacy group in the U.S., provides resources for people who have come out as LGBTQ+. The organization has a dedicated section of its website to help anyone who is coming out, as well as provide assistance that is specifically geared toward Black LGBTQ people.

“Coming out and living openly aren’t something you do once, or even for one year,” its website states. “It’s a journey that we make every single day of our lives. Every coming out experience is unique and must be navigated in the way most comfortable for the individual. Whether it’s for the first time ever or the first time today, coming out can be an arduous journey. It is also a brave decision to live openly and authentically.”

Ellen Kahn, senior director of programs and partnerships at HRC, told The North Star that it is crucial that parents of LGBTQ children be supportive.

“If you are the parent of a child who has just come out as LGBTQ — the first thing to consider is that your child has opened up to you and has made a conscious choice to let you into their life and to be honest in their relationship with you,” Kahn said in a statement to The North Star. “Now it is up to you to love, accept and support them in all their needs.”

Kahn said it was important for parents to be supportive of their children when they come out as LGBTQ+.

“Much like Dwayne Wade did, a step you can take to support your child is to immediately support them, thank them for sharing and let them know you are in their corner. Wade immediately told Zaya that she was a leader for sharing her truth, and that he will be her champion,” Kahn said. “Every child wants their parent to be their champion.”

Additional Resources for LGBTQ Support (Via GLAAD)