'She Is Our Leader': Dwyane Wade Talks About Daughter Zaya's Coming Out Journey

by Julie Scagell
Dwyane Wade Says He Knew His Daughter's Gender Identity When She Was 3

Dwyane Wade said it’s his job to support Zaya 100 percent

Retired NBA star Dwyane Wade has been open recently about his family and his daughter’s journey to coming out as transgender. Now, he’s giving even more open access to his life in a new personal documentary, D. Wade: Life Unexpected, talking in-depth about how they are supporting his 12-year-old daughter Zaya’s gender identity.

“Myself and my family, we love the fact that she doesn’t have to hide who she is,” Wade, who talked about his special on Good Morning America with co-anchor Robin Roberts. “She is our leader.” Wade said that Zaya, who was originally named Zion and born a boy, has “known it for nine years since she was 3 years old,” he said.

“Zaya started doing more research. She was the one that 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 — I identify myself as a young lady. I think I’m a straight trans, because I like boys,” he explained to Roberts. “It was a process for us to sit down with our daughter and find out who she is and what she likes and not put something on her.”

Wade spent time with Ellen DeGeneres earlier this month, saying, “First of all, me and my wife, Gabrielle Union, we are proud parents of a child in the LGBTQ+ community, and we’re proud allies as well. We take our roles and our responsibilities as parents very seriously.”

Wade continued: “I struggled on how much I wanted to talk about it in the doc, I actually did talk about it a lot, but I knew if I put it in the doc at all it would be a big conversation,” he said. “This is no game to us. We’re about protecting her heart and about protecting her joy and we have to support them. As parents, we put our hopes and we put our fears on our kids. And with Zaya, we decided to listen to her, and she’s leading us along this journey.”

He also talked about the importance of his family being Zaya’s first line of support. “My daughter was my first interaction when it comes to having to deal with this conversation. Hopefully, I’m dealing with it the right way — inside our home we see the smile on my daughter’s face, we see the confidence that she’s able to walk around and be herself and that’s when you know you’re doing right.”

It’s clear Wade and his family are role models for what to do if you have a child exploring their gender identity. For more about their journey, D. Wade: Life Unexpected will air on Sunday, Feb. 23, at 9 p.m. ET on ESPN.