Columns / Discourse / February 19, 2020

Wade’s parenting builds allyship and bridges

For Dwyane Wade – retired basketball player for Miami Heat – his Hollywood moment came when he went through a public custody battle with his ex-wife, Siohvaughn Funches. Wade eventually won the battle and was able to relocate both of his kids to Miami, where he played at the time. His two children have reappeared in the spotlight independent of their famous father. Zaire Wade is a high-school basketball player at Sierra Canyon and Zaya Wade has recently come out as transgender, transitioning from male to female which has caused an uproar.

Wade announced his daughter’s coming out on the Ellen Show. Wade shared that he was very supportive of his daughter’s decision.

“Once Zaya (…) originally born Zion as a boy – came home and said, ‘Hey, so I want to talk to you guys. I think going forward, I’m ready to live my truth, and I want to be referenced as ‘she’ and ‘her.’ I would love for you guys to call me Zaya,’” Dwyane said. “So internally, now it’s our job to (…) go out and get information, to reach out to every relationship that we have.”

Zaire, Zaya’s brother, took to Instagram to talk about his sister’s decision. The 18 year old high school senior said:

“Man, I remember bugging my mom as a kid telling her I wanted a brother so bad. I was the only child looking for company and someone to look after and take care of. 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. 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.”

There have been both positive and negative reactions regarding the decision of Wade’s daughter to come out openly. The adverse reaction has been very ignorant. There’s been those who think Zaya is too young to decide her own identity.

Rapper Lil Boosie took to his Instagram page to make his comments, even though no one asked for them. The Louisiana emcee said, “That is a male. A 12 year old. At 12, they don’t even know what the next meal is going to be. They don’t have sh*t figured out yet. He might meet a woman, anything, at 16 and fall in love with her. But his d*ck be gone – how he gon’ – like, bruh, you going too far, dawg.”

For context, Boosie is assuming that Zaya will be having gender affirming surgery when neither she nor her father have even talked about the topic openly. However, why is Lil Boosie making a statement about another man’s child that has no bearing on his personal life? Wade’s not going too far by supporting his child – something that not every kid in the black community is afforded. He’s a great dad.

Another rapper, Young Thug, chimed in with his two cents on Twitter: “All I wanna say to Dwayne’s son is ‘GOD DON’T MAKE MISTAKES’ but hey live your true self.”

Young Thug’s comment isn’t as bad, but he still misgendered Wade’s daughter, on purpose. That type of ignorance is unwarranted. Zaya’s life isn’t of anyone’s concern. The only concern should be the happiness of the child.

Author Frederick Joseph responded to Boosie indirectly on Twitter saying, “Boosie is the same man who said he wanted a grown woman to have sex with his fourteen year old son.” This is in reference to a story a couple of years back about the 37 year old rapper offering his son to receive oral sex for his birthday.

So somewhere in Boosie’s mind, he’s “right” for pushing sex on his young son, but Dwyane Wade is “wrong” for supporting his daughter in being who she is.

Thank you, Dwyane Wade, for not being an old-school dad and forcing your child to be someone she isn’t.

As an icon in a field that has not exactly been the most open to LGBTQ+ people, Wade not having second-thoughts about supporting his daughter is refreshing. The NBA has had one openly gay person in the league’s entire history: Jason Collins. Collins only played 22 uninspiring games before retiring. There hasn’t been an openly gay player that played a significant role on an NBA team since.

Having a player of Wade’s stature supporting the community and still learning is only going to be positive. Wade can bridge the gap between the basketball community and the LGBTQ+ community with the link he shares between both worlds. He showed up to Pride 2019 with his wife, Gabrielle Union, and his daughter before she had officially announced that she is a trans woman.

Dwyane Wade told Ellen that he’s been researching the LGBTQ+ community ever since his daughter came out to him. Union tweeted from her Twitter account, “Huge huge huge THANK YOU to everyone whose dms I slid into, friends, & family who provided information, resources, love & encouragement,” she said. “We are humble LGBTQ+ allies with ALOT to learn & grateful for all the support. We encourage yall to check us as needed. Again, thank you!”

As a straight, cisgender African-American male I can’t pretend to know what Zaya Wade is going through. However, I do support the amount of courage it takes to come out like how she did. She’s living her truth, and that’s admirable.


Tags:  allyship dwayne wade LGBTQ+ NBA trans people

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