Dwayne Wade is a hero to many for his NBA records, but it’s his parenting stats — namely, how vocal he has been advocating for his transgender daughter Zaya — that have many people applauding him now. On Wednesday, August 17, the retired NBA superstar made an official petition to the Los Angeles Superior Court to allow his daughter to legally change her name to Zaya Malachi Airamis Wade.
The petition states that Wade has full authority to make decisions on his daughter’s behalf, according to Spectrum News 1. The petition also states that he has notified his former wife and Zaya’s mother, Siohvaughn Funches, of the legal action as a courtesy. Wade has had sole custody of his two children with Funches since 2007.
Zaya, now 15, came out to her father and stepmother Gabrielle Union when she was 12. Wade opened up to Ellen DeGeneres about the experience on her talk show in 2020.
“Our then-12-year-old came home and said, ‘Hey, so I want to talk to you guys. You know, I think going forward, I’m ready to live my truth, and I want to be referred to as she and her, and I would love for you guys to call me Zaya.”
“Now it’s our job to one, go out and get information, to reach out to every relationship that we have,” Wade told DeGeneres. “My wife reached out to everybody on the cast of Pose. And we’re just trying to figure out as much information as we can to make sure that we give our child the best opportunity to be, you know, her best self.”
Wade has also previously called out harmful legislation like Florida’s Don’t Say Gay law, calling out how silly it is to ban discussing certain topics when there is so much free information available to kids and teens online.
“Our kids can go find out about all these things, but then it’s ‘Don’t talk about this in school,’ ‘Don’t do this in school,’” he noted. “Why are we not talking about it? Why are we not educating our kids? Why are we not educating ourselves?” Wade said during a speech at the Time100 Summit back in June. “You can’t close the book on what somebody want, on how they feel they are.”
Union has been right by her husband and daughter’s side throughout as well. In 2019, Wade and Union started working with LGBTQ advocacy organization GLSEN, which works to eliminate bullying and discrimination in schools. “As a family, we believe inclusion and equality are two essential pillars needed to move towards growth and progressive thinking and action in our society,” Union wrote on Instagram, announcing a $50,000 donation.
In an interview with ScaryMommy, Union talked about how her family is processing all of the legislative attacks on trans children. “We task folks every day with knowing how to protect our kids when they’re in their presence and knowing how best to advocate for our kids when they’re out in the world,” she explained. “These are the conversations you have to keep having every day, because the second you look away, it’s on your doorstep and you can’t claim ignorance. In our house, it’s just honest, direct conversation, because we have to arm her with everything, and information is the first weapon.”
Zaya has some pretty rad parents. Here’s how anyone can support trans and nonbinary children.