Gabrielle Union Says Zaya Felt 'Outed' Online Before Coming Out As Trans

by Erica Gerald Mason
Originally Published: 
Gabrielle Union/Instagram

“[Her] peace is nonnegotiable,” Gabrielle Union says of 13-year-old Zaya

There’s something beautiful in the ferociousness of a mama lion protecting her cubs, and it’s no different when Gabrielle Union talks about stepdaughter Zaya’s coming out experiences. In February of 2020 Union introduced her Instagram fans to Zaya, making headlines when the now-13-year-old came out as transgender.

Union discussed her stepdaughter’s struggles during the first episode of Facebook Watch’s Peace of Mind With Taraji. The actress shared with hosts Taraji P. Henson and Tracie Jade Jenkins how husband Dwyane Wade’s daughter struggled with the online chatter about her identity and appearance when she appeared on her parents’ social media accounts. “Zaya’s peace is non-negotiable,” says Union. “As Zaya gathered more language, she was able to tell us about her identity. She was able to tell us about her sexuality. She was able to tell us ‘I’m trans.’ And she says, ‘I’ve come out a few times. I came out to my teacher in third grade, and then when you guys posted that picture of me in Chicago at my birthday party.'”

The photo of a family celebrating their daughter’s birthday set off a buzz of speculation. “And it’s just Zaya standing next to her cake,” Union says of the social media pic. “And that picture was dissected on certain Black blogs, and the comments were the guessing as to who Zaya was and why. … She said, ‘It felt like I was outed, and I was just standing next to my cake.’

Union — who shares daughter Kaavia Jame, 2, with Wade and is also stepmom to Zaya plus his two sons Xavier Zechariah, 7, and Zaire, 18 — stresses that she and her husband are still learning. “We only know what we know,” she says, “and we have to be open to embrace that we don’t know s—.”

The Bring It On actress noted that Zaya has started cheerleading — Union joked that her stepdaughter ‘better bring it!'”

On Peace of Mind, Henson co-hosts alongside Jenkins, and together the two discuss mental health issues — with a focus on those in the Black community. The show will feature a mixture of experts, celebrities, and viewers. Each episode will highlight a different mental health topic.

Viewers and celebrity guests will appear on the show on Mondays, and Henson and Jenkins will sit down with healthcare professionals and experts on Wednesdays to explore the previous show. The idea is to have deeper conversations that offer viewers strategies to achieve better mental health.

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