Zaya Wade Is Trans and Loved: Dwyane Wade Shares 12-Year-Old’s Coming Out with Ellen

In an appearance today on The Ellen Show, retired NBA star Dwyane Wade cements himself as a real life model for all parents of LGBT kids when he details his support of his child, Zaya.

Fair warning, though, you might need some tissues.

We’ve watched Zaya’s emergence through the eyes of her famous parents, Wade and model/actress/all-around badass Gabrielle Union. They’ve been nothing but supportive. We saw the family accompany Zaya to Miami Pride in April. In September, Wade’s eldest son Zaire created family “Pride” themed shirts for donations to GSLEN (Gabrielle captioned her photo of them with the hashtag #StopKillingBlackTransWomen). We’ve seen Wade clap back at trolls who dared to criticize his child’s fierce nails and fashion.

Last month, a photo popped up on social media of Pose stars Angelica Ross and Hailie Sahar ringing in the new year with Gabrielle. It wasn’t an accident, but a reflection of the friendships that have been forged and deepened by the Wades as they sought out support to be better allies for Zaya. Both Ross and Sahar have been candid about, not just their trans experience, but their experience with their families’ initial reactions: Sahar talks about it in a new BET web series called “In My Truth” and Ross and her mother appeared on Black Women OWN the Conversation in a segment that left me in tears.

Back in December, Wade affirmed his love for Zaya — though not by name — on the “All That Smoke” podcast, hosted by two fellow former NBA players, and used she/her pronouns to do it.

“I’ve watched my son, from day one, become into who she now eventually has come into,” Wade said. “For me, nothing changes with my love. Nothing changes with my responsibilities. Only thing I got to do now is get smarter and educate myself more.”

Wade stumbles occasionally but with each discussion of Zaya, he proves himself to be a person who’s learning and growing. By doing it publicly, he’s modeling for a whole world how to parent a trans child. Not everyone can reach out to the cast of Pose for information about how to create a better world for their daughter, but the Wades are offering a public roadmap on how parents can be better.

Despite wanting to keep Zaya away from the public eye because of her young age, it’s clear that the Wades — Dwyane, Gabi and Zaya — understand what a gamechanger sharing her story could be for trans young people, particularly black trans youth, and the parents of those daughters.

“You are a leader. You are a leader and this is an opportunity to allow you to be a voice,” Wade recalls telling Zaya during his interview with Ellen.

This is your voice, Zaya, and we hear you loud and clear.

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A black biracial, bisexual girl raised in the South, working hard to restore North Carolina's good name. Lover of sports, politics, good TV and Sonia Sotomayor. You can follow her latest rants on Twitter.

Natalie has written 410 articles for us.


    • YES! That’s the fault of my autocorrect on my computer thinking it knows better than Zaya! It doesn’t! I’m fixing it now.

      • Oh thank god! I was very confused. I thought for a minute it was a dead name and I was very uncomfortable. But I also didn’t think anyone at Autostraddle would do that so I was super confused.

  1. Dang, you were right: I should’ve grabbed some tissues before I read this. Sending Zaya and her whole family so much love.

  2. I’ve been so weepy about this all morning, in part because of all the bills around the country targeting trans kids. I can’t even imagine the impact of Zaya being so comfortable with herself and her family being so publicly supportive.

    It’s really going to save lives which is putting a lot on a 12 year old and I’m so grateful she was willing to take that on.

  3. I’m a little choked up over this too. <3
    I'm overwhelmed by their support of their daughter and Zaya's courage!

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