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Gabrielle Union, Dwayne Wade, Zaya, NAACP award

Source: Axelle/Bauer-Griffin / Getty

At the 54th Annual NAACP Image Awards, Gabrielle Union-Wade and Dwyane Wade are recipients of the President’s Award, according to ESSENCE, for their “recognition of special achievement and distinguished public service.”

The married couple operates a platform called The Wade Family Foundation, a philanthropy organization specializing in advancing racial justice and LGBTQ equality. 

Wade earned a spot on the 2020 TIME100 list for his efforts. Through The Wade Family Foundation, he has advocated against gun violence and supported the Parkland shooting victims through March for Our Lives, and he launched a Parkland 17 art exhibit at the Florida Art Walk.

Accepting their award, in his speech, Dwyane thanked his newly recognized daughter Zaya Wade, whose recently approved petition granted her a legal name and gender change at age 15.

Zaya’s dead name is Zion.

“I want to take this moment to publicly speak to our daughter Zaya. As your father, all I’ve wanted to do is get it right. I’ve sat back and watch how gracefully you’ve taken on public scrutiny. And even though it’s not easy, I watched you walk out of the house every morning. I admire how you handle the ignorance in our world. I admire that you face every day,” the former NBA superstar said.

“To say that your village is proud of you is an understatement. Thank you for showing me that there’s more than just one way to communicate effectively. You’ve taught me that communication with my mouth isn’t enough. I have to also communicate with my two ears and to use my two eyes. As your father my job isn’t to create a version of myself that directs your future. My role is to be a facilitator to your hopes, your wishes, your dreams.”

Zaya, who publically came out as transgender at 13 years old, is the daughter of Dwyane and ex-wife Siohvaughn Funches-Wade.

As MADAMENOIRE previously reported, Siohvaughn requested a judge to deny the petition in Nov 2020. Her counter-petition continued until 2023, citing her concerns about child exploitation, cyberbullying, and general harassment and unwanted attention. 

Dwyane, who has had custody of their two children since 2011, called her allegations “nonsensical.”

Gabrielle, on the other hand, believes there is a fight to be won in the Black community, calling out the lack of support for the LGBTQ+ at the Saturday awards show.

“[This is] a new era of activism that demands our collective answer to one simple question. Will we fight for some or we fight for all of our people?” Gabrielle said.

“Let’s just name a couple of hard truths. The intersection of Black rights and the rights of the LGBTQIA, trans and gender non-conforming people [sic] continues to be rough. Even as we demand equality at the top of our lungs, we consistently fail to extend our advocacy to protect some of our most vulnerable among us.”

Trans people, particularly Black trans, face unique obstacles as they are twice as likely to die than cis men, and nearly three times as likely to die than cis women, from heart disease, lung cancer, HIV-related illness and suicide, according to Forbes.

Trans people are also more likely to face homelessness, violence, and discrimination, with at least 28 transgender or gender non-conforming people, most of whom were Black or Latina women, killed in 2021, The Guardian reported. 

“Black trans people are being targeted and terrorized and hunted in this country, every day, everywhere.” Gabrielle continued.

“There’s barely a whisper. We honestly don’t approach this work as activists or leaders, as much as we do this as parents. Parents who love our children and will do whatever the hell we can to keep them seen and secure and safe. This is a conversation worth having in ways that can actually build bridges. That don’t fan the flames of hatred or division.”

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