During a recent interview with Good Morning America to promote his upcoming documentary D. Wade: Life Unexpected, the former professional basketball player spoke about how he and his family addressed their daughter opening up about her gender identity.
He explained that 12-year-old Zaya, who was born Zion, has been aware that she is trans since she was a young child.
“She’s known it for nine years,” Wade told GMA co-anchor Robin Roberts. “She’s known since she was three years old.”
When asked by Roberts whether he knew his daughter was trans when she was younger, the 38-year-old said that he “had to check” himself from an early stage.
“I knew early on that I had to ask myself questions,” he recalled.
“I’ve been a person in a locker room that has been a part of the conversation that has said the wrong phrases and the wrong words myself.”
Wade continued, saying that as he has watched Zaya grow over the years, he has had to look in the mirror and ask himself: “Who are you? What are you going to do if your child comes home and says, ‘Dad, I’m not a boy. That I’m a gay boy. Or that I’m a trans girl.’ What are you going to do?”
“And for me, that was my moment of real,” he added.
Wade, who has four children and is married to actor Gabrielle Union, described Zaya as the family’s “leader”.
It was a process for us to sit down with our daughter and find out who she is and what she likes, and not put something on her because as parents, we put our hopes and we put our fears on our kids,” the retired basketball player stated.
“And with Zaya, we decided to listen to her and she’s leading us along this journey.
Wade explained that he and his family feel a duty to “protect each other”, outlining that while they receive “amazing support from some people”, they also “get a lot of hate from people”.
“My daughter was my first interaction when it comes to having to deal with this conversation. And hopefully I’m dealing with it the right way – some people think I’m not,” he said.
“But inside our home we see the smile on our daughter’s face, we see the confidence that she’s able to walk around and be herself, and that’s when you know you’re doing right.”
Earlier this week, rappers Young Thug and Boosie Badazz were heavily condemned for their comments on Zaya’s gender identity.
In a now-deleted tweet, Young Thug misgendered Wade’s daughter, stating: “All I wanna say to dwade son is “GOD DONT MAKE MISTAKES’ but hey live your true self.”
Meanwhile, Boosie Badazz went on a tirade targeted at Zaya in a video posted on Instagram.