The news of Dwyane Wade embracing and loving his daughter Zaya has been a huge story. One because it’s a narrative we’re not used to seeing in the public eye. Zaya, who was assigned male at birth and named Zion, has chosen to identify as a girl and be addressed as such.
Not only is Zaya’s story unique, but so is the response of her Black parents. While I’m sure they’re are not the only Black family to accept their Black child identifying with a gender they were not assigned, this is one of the first times we’ve seen this acceptance displayed publicly.
So we keep talking about it.
Wade recently released a documentary about his life and, in addition to speaking about the things he’s overcome, he also shared a portion of Zaya’s journey. And it was not a conversation he took lightly.
In a sit-down conversation with Robin Roberts on “Good Morning America,” Wade shared that it was a struggle determining what he did and didn’t want to share about his daughter.
“We struggled with what people would say about a 12-year-old making a decision about her life. But we also know our child, right?…One thing we do know as a family, we’ve been through so many different things that other people and other families go through and they say, ‘Thank you guys for speaking out on it. Thank you guys for being the face and the voice of it because we can’t,’ ” Wade said. “And that’s what we’re trying to do. We know there’s other families out there that’s dealing with their kid, finding themselves and learning who they are.”
Wade shared that while the news is new to us, this is a conversation they’ve been having as a family for a majority of Zaya’s life.
“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.”
When asked about when he accepted what Zaya already knew, Wade said,
“I knew early on that I had to check myself. That’s what I knew. I knew early on that I had to ask myself questions. 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 continued. “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 … I’m a trans girl.” What are you going to do?’ That was my moment of real.”
Wade shared that while many people may not agree with the way his family is handling this, he notices a change in his daughter.
“Hopefully I’m dealing with it the right way. Some people feel that I’m not. But inside our home, we see the smile on her 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. “She is our leader,” Wade said. “I think when the conversation we had — the one thing about it, for parents, is have conversations with your kids. Zaya, early on, knew two things. She knew straight and she knew gay. But Zaya started doing more research.”
Wade said that Zaya was the one who helped the family get on board.
She is 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. ‘This is how I identify myself, this is my gender identity, I identify myself as a young lady. I think I’m a straight trans because I like boys.’ So it was a process for us to sit down with our daughter and find out who she is and what she likes, and not put something on her. As parents, we put our hopes and we put our fears on our kids,” he said. “With Zaya, we decided to listen to her. And she’s walking us on the journey. I’m not going to sit here and act like we have all the answers,” Wade shared. “I’m not going to sit here and act like before our child sat us down that we weren’t ignorant parents. When I say we’re learning from our 12-year-old, we’re literally learning from our child.”
You can listen to Wade’s full interview in the video below.