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Dwyane Wade, Gabrielle Union celebrate transgender 12-year-old who now goes by Zaya

Dwyane Wade poses for a photo with his wife, Gabrielle Union, nephew, Dahveon Morris, and children, Kaavia James Union Wade, Zaire Wade, Xavier Wade and Zion (now Zaya) Wade after his final career home game. (Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

In December, former NBA star Dwyane Wade opened up on the challenges of raising a child who doesn’t fit into traditional gender norms.

Wade said on the “All the Smoke” podcast that the challenge lies with him as a parent more than his 12-year-old son Zion, who had recently stated a preference to be referred to by feminine pronouns.

“It’s not about him,” Wade said in December. “He knows who he is. It’s about you. Who are you? All these people that are out there saying those things — look at yourself. Understand that you’re the one that got the issue; you’re the one that has the problems. It’s not the kids.”

Two months later, Wade and his wife Gabrielle Union are celebrating the transition of Zion to her preferred name of Zaya as well as giving her a platform on social media.

‘It’s our job as parents to listen’

Wade made an appearance on “Ellen” Tuesday to talk about Zaya’s transition and the importance as a parent to show unconditional love and support when things don’t go as planned.


“We are proud parents of a child in the LQBTQ+ community,” Wade told Ellen. “ ... So when our child comes home with a question, when our child comes home with an issue, when our child comes home with anything, it's our job as parents to listen to that, to give them the best information that we can, the best feedback that we can.

“And that doesn't change because sexuality's now involved in it.”

He then opened up about the experience he and Union had when Zion told them she preferred to be called Zaya.

“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,’” Wade continued. “I would love for you guys to call me Zaya. So internally, now it's our job to go out and get information, to reach out to every relationship that we have.”

‘Be true to yourself’

After the Ellen clip aired, Wade and Union let Zaya speak for herself while she chatted with Wade during a golf outing.

“If they’re afraid they would be judged, I would say ‘don’t even think about that, be true to yourself,’” Zaya said when talking about people having fear over coming out. “Because are you really even — what’s the point of being on this Earth if you’re going to try to be someone you’re not?

“It’s like you’re not even living as yourself. It’s like the dumbest concept to me. Be true and don’t really care what the stereotypical way of being you is.”

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