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Gabrielle Union said her teenage step-daughter Zaya Wade felt “outed” online due to a photo that was posted of the child with Union back in 2017 at her 10th birthday party. Appearing on the premiere of Taraji P. Henson’s Facebook Watch series, Peace of Mind With Taraji, Union said that she learned from the situation that “Zaya’s peace is non-negotiable.”

With Henson, Union said that Zaya shared with her and Dwyane her experiences coming to terms with her gender identity.

“As Zaya gathered more language, she was able to tell us about her identity. She was able to tell us about her sexuality. She was able to tell us, ‘I’m trans,’ and ‘I’ve come out a few times,'” the actress said.

Union explained that Zaya said she had previously come out twice — once in a way that had nothing to do with her own actions.

“She said, ‘Well, I came out to my teacher in the third grade and then [again] when you guys posted that picture of me in Chicago at my birthday party,'” Union recalled.

The photo being referenced was a snapshot of Union and Zaya standing next to a big movie theater inspired cake that was posted originally in 2017.

“And it’s just Zaya standing next to her cake,” she continued. “And that picture was dissected on certain Black blogs. And the comments were guessing as to who Zaya was and why.”

“She said, ‘I felt like I was outed and I was just standing next to the cake,'” Union added.

The image, to be clear though, was posted by Union with hearts and a rainbow. The latter is a symbol, at least in colors, for the LGBTQ community. The conversation surrounding the image, which featured Zaya posing like her stepmom, came about because she shared the image with that emoji.

Moving on from that experience though, Zaya has schooled them on many things regarding her gender and sexual identity. 

“She was like, “I’m trans, I’m demi, [you know], demisexual. I’m not bound by gender, in terms of attraction,” she said. 

“After learning of her sexuality, Dwyane asked Zaya “are you still trans?” to which Union said the teen clarified, “Identity is not the same as sexuality, is not the same as gender expression. I was like okay!”

This isn’t the first time Union has spoken up about the struggles Zaya has faced and their blended family. Zaya’s trans journey has been shared by her family for some time now, including in an interview her father did on The Ellen DeGeneres Show back in February of this year where he expressed Zaya’s preferred pronouns are she and her.

“You have to be open to embrace that we don’t know sh*t.” That’s what Union offered during her conversation with Henson. She encouraged others to be open and receptive to the struggles of those around them. The interview itself also covered a wide variety of topics surrounding mental health overall, including PTSD, and  Union’s journey with therapy since the age of 19.

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