Dwyane Wade and Gabrielle Union Set an Example for Parents of Trans Kids

Nearly a dozen states have tried to limit trans kids' access to gender-affirming health care, while a new lawsuit aims to keep trans girls out of school sports.
February 13, 2020, 9:37pm
dwyane wade, gabrielle union, zaya wade, transgender, trans, daughter, child, kid, gender-affirming, what if my kid says he's trans,
Photo by Emma McIntyre via Getty Images

Former basketball player Dwyane Wade and Being Mary Jane star Gabrielle Union announced earlier this week that one of their kids is trans, providing a much-needed example of how to support your child should they tell you that they want to transition.

Wade popped by Ellen DeGeneres’ talk show to make the announcement, ESPN reports. In an interview segment that aired on Tuesday, the retired NBA All-Star told the Ellen host that the younger of his two children with first wife Siohvaughn Funches is a transgender girl whose name is Zaya and that her pronouns are she, her, and hers.

While even the most well-intentioned cis parents might stress over what to do if their kid told them that they’re trans, Wade made his and Union’s compassionate, affirming response sound like a no-brainer. “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 we can, the best feedback we can," he told DeGeneres. "And that doesn't change because sexuality is now involved."

It really is that easy!

Zaya commented on the announcement herself in a video tweeted by Union on Tuesday.

"What is the point of being on this earth if you're trying to be someone you're not?" she said. "It's like you are not even living as yourself, which is the dumbest concept to me. Be true, and don't really care what the 'stereotypical' way of being you is."

Supportive models like this from such well-known public figures come at a critical time for trans youth in the United States. Nearly a dozen states have considered passing legislation that would punish, and in some cases criminalize, doctors for giving gender-affirming health care, like hormones and puberty blockers, to minors. South Dakota’s highly publicized version of this bill died in committee on Monday, but the legislative battle over trans kids’ access to medical care rages on in Ohio, Colorado, and elsewhere.

Given Wade’s status in his sport, his vocal support for trans youth could have a majorly positive impact on the acceptance of trans athletes, particularly student athletes, whose participation in several sports, including powerlifting and track and field, has become a topic of debate and reactionary fear-mongering from both sides of the political spectrum.

On Wednesday, three Connecticut families represented by conservative nonprofit Alliance Defending Freedom filed a federal lawsuit to block trans athletes in the state from competing in girls’ sports, the Associated Press reports. They argue that girls assigned male at birth possess a “biological unfairness,” despite evidence to the contrary for those undergoing hormone replacement therapy.

Terry Miller, one of the two trans girl athletes at the center of the lawsuit, described these attacks on her talents and personhood have been “unfair and painful.” Like anyone else her age, she probably just wants to live her life as much on her own terms as possible. Thankfully, there are parents out there like Wade and Union who affirm her right to do so. Here’s hoping their announcement sparks even more support.

Sign up for our newsletter to get the best of VICE delivered to your inbox daily.

Follow Harron Walker on Twitter .