Meet Dwyane Wade's Transgender Daughter, Zaya

Age and wisdom aren't always interchangeable: Dwyane Wade and Gabrielle Union have recently proven they're learning so much from their 12-year-old child Zaya. And by taking the opportunity to listen to their much-younger loved one, Wade and Union are setting an example for parents everywhere. As the retired NBA player shared during an interview on The Ellen DeGeneres Show in February 2020, Wade's daughter Zaya is a transgender girl. The 38-year-old is speaking out about his daughter's gender identity in support of Zaya's desire to live as her most authentic self.

Wade isn't the only supportive parent. Along with a video of Zaya and Wade chatting in a golf cart, Union announced on Instagram, "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. Love and light good people." Soon after, the internet was flooded with love and admiration for the famous family, along with some (sadly not surprising) instances of criticism and transphobia.

In the wake of all the attention on their family, Wade tweeted, "We don't claim to have all the answers but we are committed to learning and loving and being good allies and better parents." And really, what more could anyone ask for?

Zaya encourages others to 'be the best you'

In the aforementioned video of Zaya and her dad having a heart-to-heart, the 12-year-old emphasized the importance of authenticity. She shared advice for others who are afraid of being judged. "I would say, don't even think about that. Just be true to yourself... Because what's the point of being on this earth if you're gonna try to be someone you're not? It's like, you're not even living as yourself."

When Dwyane Wade asked whether that stance still stands when others are being mean or hurtful, Zaya wisely responded, "I know it can get tough definitely, but I think you push through and you be the best you." She also said, "It's very worth it when you reach that point of yourself... You can look in the mirror and say hi to yourself. Like, 'Nice to meet you,' instead of, 'Hmm, I don't really know who I am.'"

In a recent Good Morning America interview (via NBC News), Wade revealed Zaya has known her identity since age 3, even if it's been a learning curve for the family. Zaya did research, and as Wade recalled, "She was 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 and said, 'This is how I identify myself. This is my gender identity. I identify myself as a young lady." Ultimately, Wade made clear, "She's leading us along this journey."

The Wade family's support of Zaya is endless

If there's one big takeaway from Dwyane Wade and Gabrielle Union sharing Zaya's journey publicly, it's that they're prioritizing her happiness. On Good Morning America, Wade said (via USA Today), "This is no game to us. We're all about protecting her heart, we're about protecting her joy and to do that, we have to support her." And during his Ellen DeGeneres Show interview, Wade shared, "Me and my wife, Gabrielle Union, we are proud parents of a child in the LGBTQ+ community. And we are proud allies as well."

Wade's son Zaire posted a message for his sister on Instagram, too. Along with childhood photos, Zaire wrote, "I have been blessed to have my best friend, Zaya with me for 12 years. We did everything together...we fought, we played, we laughed and we cried. But the one thing we never did was leave each other behind... I've told you that I would lay my life down to make sure you are ten toes down and happy on this earth." The 18-year-old continued, "I don't care what they think Z, you are my best friend and I love you kid, and if it means anything, just know there's no love lost on this side."

In yet another public show of support, the family attended Miami Pride in April 2019. While Wade missed the event because of basketball, he shared on Instagram (via People), "Wish I was there to see you smile kid!"

Dwyane Wade and Gabrielle Union are learning right along with Zaya

Although Dwyane Wade and Gabrielle Union are setting an example and opening up an important conversation, they're the first to admit they're not perfect — it's a learning experience for them as well. On Feb. 11, Union tweeted, "Huge huge huge THANK YOU to everyone whose dms I slid into, friends, & family who provided information, resources, love & encouragement. We are humble LGBTQ+ allies with ALOT to learn & grateful for all the support. We encourage yall to check us as needed." As Wade pointed out in a recent interview, Union also reached out to the cast of Pose to learn more about the LGBTQ+ experience.

Tying into that theme of growing and keeping an open mind, Wade shared on GMA (via USA Today), "I'm not going to sit here and act like we have all the answers. I'm not going to sit here and act like before our child came home and sat us down, that we weren't ignorant parents when it comes to the world. When I say we're learning from our 12-year-old, we're literally learning from our child."

At the end of the day, Wade and Union aren't the only ones learning from Zaya's commitment to authenticity. Fans all across the country are being taught a thing or two about the power of family support and living life as your true self.