Dwyane Wade has once again proven himself as Father of the Year.
The NBA star and author of the new photographic memoir, Dwyane, recently spoke to Trevor Noah about his life in the NBA, his friendship with the late Kobe Bryant and helping his trans daughter Zaya find herself in a world that continues to evolve around LGBTQ issues.
“I think when things happen to you personally, when you have a personal connection to something or someone, you take it a little bit more seriously,” he said of Zaya, who came out as trans last year at age 12. “If it happens to you, you have to look it in the eye. You must.”
“[With] my daughter looking at me across the table, I have to, this is something I have to deal with in the sense of, I don’t know everything,” he continued. “As a parent, you want to make sure that when your kids come to you, you have answers, you have the right words, you have the right support, whatever it is, you have the right motivation.”
“I had no answers at the time,” he said of when Zaya first came out. “The only answer I knew and I had is that this is my child. I love them and I hate the pain my child is in. When you see the pain of not being able to be confident and comfortable in who you are, you don’t want anyone to live like that. No one you love. So right away, as soon as the hug and embrace you just see the light. I see Zaya’s light. And for me, to be in a place where I don’t try to dim her light. I try to get out of the way and give her all the light.”
He continued: ‘I just saw a beautiful, thriving 14-year-old girl who is trying to pass her exam in school like everyone else, who this year is trying to find friends who will go back to school like everyone else. My wife and I, our whole role and all our work, and we understand this, is to provide, to protect, to love, to facilitate. [As parents, we think] we have all these rules. It’s not about own. It’s not to say, ‘You’re going to be this, you’re going to do that.’ It is to find out who they are. To find out what they like and what they don’t like. And try to help them through life, to find themselves. It’s not about us.”
Indeed, Wade and his wife, Gabrielle Union, continue to advocate for their daughter on behalf of other trans youth who do not have the same support.
According to research, LGBTQ youth are 120 times more likely experience homelessness than their heterosexual peers, many because they have been evicted from their parental home by parents or guardians simply because they identify as trans. A 2018 study published in the journal Pediatrics also found that trans youth experience significantly more suicide attempts.
In an effort to combat these statistics, the Wade family has done its bit by educating the world about the real-life experiences transgender people face. In her first interview since coming out, Zaya herself said how important it is to empower queer youth and encourage them to “live life to the fullest.”
“I think that really means knowing who you really are and being able to show other people who you are, and that’s exactly what it’s all about,” she said. Where’s the Buzz TV at the Truth Awards last year. “I feel like there was always something I needed to do, but I’ve never been able to find it… I just eventually stopped doing it and I think I found it.”
Zaya regularly shows love for her family on social media and recently shared a series of black and white photos with the caption “Love them.”
This summer, she posted several messages encouraging followers to see the best in themselves: “Flawless is seeing your flaws less and living your most authentic life celebrating YOU!” she wrote in April.
Union also continues to advocate for Zaya, saying: Good morning America last year she helped the family see a bigger picture, one that inspires them to help others.
“We’re still kind of getting used to being recognized because we’re just doing things that have actually come very naturally, like loving your kids the way they are, which is weird to get the credit for that,” she said, while they “the level of hatred based on anything but the facts,” including “a lot of people in the black community who wouldn’t accept someone from the transgender community. And consider them different and not worthy of life.”
Union added: “If you’re fighting for equality, you have to embrace every life as being worthy and deserving of equality. You can’t pick and choose.”