Dwyane Wade supports child’s choice to go by Zaya: ‘We are proud parents’

Click to play video: 'Dwyane Wade talks about his 12-year-old’s gender identity' Dwyane Wade talks about his 12-year-old’s gender identity
On Feb. 11, Dwyane Wade sat down with Ellen DeGeneres and talked about how he and his wife embraced their 12-year-old’s gender identity – Feb 11, 2020

Dwyane Wade spoke openly in a new interview about how he and his wife Gabrielle Union are extremely supportive of their 12-year-old’s choice to go by the name Zaya.

“First of all, me and my wife … we are proud parents of a child in the LGBTQ+ community and we’re proud allies as well,” said Wade on The Ellen DeGeneres Show.

He told DeGeneres that both he and Union take their roles as parents very seriously and work to address any questions their four kids have — and that includes discussions around sexuality.

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Wade, 38, explained that his child, originally named Zion Malachi Airamis, approached the two and told them she was a part of the LGBTQ+ community.

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“[Zaya] came home and said, ‘hey, I want to talk to you guys. I think going forward I’m going to live my truth, and I want to be referenced as she and her. I would love for you guys to call me Zaya’,” he said.

After Zaya spoke to them about her decisions, Wade explained that he and Union, 47, worked to find as much information as they could to ensure they could guide their child. Union even reached out to the cast of Pose, a show about LGBTQ+ ball culture, to learn more about gender identity, he said.

“We just are trying to figure out as much information as we can to make sure we give our child the best opportunity to be her best self,” he said.

He told Zaya that she now can be a role model for others who may be going through something similar.

“I looked at her and said you are leader, and it’s our opportunity to allow you to have a voice, right now it’s through us because she’s 12-years-old, but eventually it will be her,” he said.

A few hours after Wade’s interview aired, Union shared a video of the former NBA player and Zaya, talking about the importance of being yourself.

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“Be true true to yourself…what’s the point of being on this earth if you’re going to try to be someone you’re not?” said Zaya in the video.”It can get tough, definitely, but you push through and you be the best you. Especially more recently, it’s become more accepting…I think even through hard times, you’ve got to just push through. It’s worth it,” she said.

In the post, Union tweeted that she’s “so proud” of Zaya and reminds parents to “respect your children exactly as they are.”


Wade has been outspoken before about the importance of listening to your kids and ensuring they have agency to make their own choices.

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In December 2019, he said it’s his responsibility to learn more about Zaya’s experience and that parenting her has caused him to “look … in the mirror,” he said on an episode of the podcast All the Smoke.

“What if your son comes home and tells you he’s gay? What are you going to do? How are you going to be? How are you going to act?” he said, adding that his children knows who they are, but he had to figure out what kind of father he wants to be as well.

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He also said that Zaya has “way more” courage and strength than he does and that he and Union are committed to ensuring their children understand “the power in their voice.” Union and Wade have a blended family, as Zaya, Zaire Blessing Dwyane and Xavier Zechariah are from Wade’s previous relationship.

He and Union share a baby girl named Kaavia James Union Wade who was born in 2018. They also share legal guardianship of Wade’s nephew, Dahveon Morris.

Wade has also dealt with criticism against Zaya before, as Union posted a picture of the family in December where Zaya was wearing acrylic nails. Online comments called the 12-year-old’s nails “extreme”.

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He quickly shut down those trolls, stating on Twitter that “Stupidity is apart [sic] of this world we live in— so I get it. But here’s the thing — I’ve been chose to lead my family not y’all. So we will continue to be us and support each other with pride, love & a smile!”

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Wade has also publicly supported Zaya at events like Miami Pride which he attended with his family last year. At the time, he shared a photo stating that Zaya had her own cheering section. “We support each other with Pride!”

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— With files from Meghan Collie and Meaghan Wray

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