Getty Images/Andrew Toth
Actress, vocal artist, activist and author — Gabrielle Union-Wade recently added another title to her wonderful list, mother. In the late summer of 2014, Wade married NBA player Dwayne Wade after meeting in 2008 and then going on to date for six years. This announcement brought not only the prospect of being a wife but also the opportunity to be a mother to Wade’s three children — Xavier, Zaire, and Zaya. In 2018, shortly after their marriage, the couple had another child, a daughter named Kaavia whose Instagram has gained an amazing 1.1 million Followers. Zaya recently made headlines when it was announced that she is transgender. Dwayne was a guest on the Ellen DeGeneres Show this month, a show hosted by Ellen—an openly lesbian comedian who’s coming out resulted in first losing her job but ultimately gaining her own talk show. While sitting down and talking with Ellen, Dwayne touched upon the subject of his daughter, saying, “Zion, born as a boy, came home and said, ‘Hey, so I want to talk to you guys. I think going forward I am ready to live my truth. I want to be referred to as ‘she’ and ‘her.’ I would love for you guys to call me Zaya.’”
This was one of the first times Dwayne has ever spoken about Zaya’s coming out in public. He went on to say that learning how to approach the subject as a man in the NBA where the pressure to personify the stereotypical all American, straight basketball player reigns supreme, was difficult at first. However, the love he has for his daughter is greater than anything else and he has been quoted as saying that he wants her to be happy and whatever he has to do to ensure she is, is worth it. He also lovingly called Zaya a leader. He is very much right. Within the LGBT community, the discrimination rate is highest among black members. Specifically black transgender and gender non-conforming people.
A horrifying 49% of black transgender people attempt suicide. In addition, 26% of black transgender people are unemployed, a rate four times higher than the general population. Zaya, as not only a black girl, but as a child of two highly influential parents, is absolutely as brave as Dwayne said. Having the right amount of strong support from within your inner circle can make the difference between life and death, between being homeless and having somewhere to live. It can make or break somebody’s life.
Since the announcement, there, of course, have been people who have been critical or downright transphobic towards Zaya and her family. However, those people obviously have no idea what the reality of being black and transgender is, nonetheless a child, and how much damage their narrow mindsets actually do in the context of how we as a society treat transgender people. At the end of the day though, it really does not matter what anybody says because nobody else can live Zaya’s life for her, she only has a duty to herself. At the beginning of the month, Gabrielle posted a video to her Instagram of a conversation between Zaya and herself discussing how important it is to be true to yourself.
Gabrielle captioned the post, saying, “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.” Alongside comments of ignorance, there has also been a massive amount of support and love from all kinds of people.
With parents as kindhearted and loving as Gabrielle and Dwayne, Zaya will have the support she needs from the people who matter the most.