A grade school-aged child is reportedly heading up the family unit in the household of retired NBA legend Dwyane Wade.
Opening up Tuesday in an interview with Robin Roberts on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” Wade spoke more fully about the recent public announcement his son Zion is now claiming female gender identity.
According to the proud father, Zion, now going by Zaya and leaning into gender transition at the ripe old age of 12, has shown immense bravery in coming out as transgender and, as a result, taken on a key role as “leader” of the Wade family.
“For her and myself and my wife and our family, we love the fact that she doesn’t have to hide who she is,” Wade told Roberts.
“She is our leader,” Wade added.
FULL INTERVIEW: NBA superstar @DwyaneWade opens up to @robinroberts about daughter Zaya’s gender identity and why it was important to feature this journey his new @ESPN documentary. https://t.co/ZdCAUU3gAQ pic.twitter.com/Bf6xUJQvcx
— Good Morning America (@GMA) February 18, 2020
Initial reports surrounding Zaya’s coming out initially spun up in the summer of 2019, according to HuffPost, when Wade and wife Gabrielle Union posted photos of their son at Miami’s LGBT pride parade.
In the months that followed, Zaya apparently came to realize an attraction to boys did not simply making him gay, but in fact transgender — something the minor had supposedly known deep down for many years.
“She’s known it for nine years, since she was 3 years old,” Wade told GMA.
“Zaya early on knew two things. She knew straight and she knew gay,” Wade said.
“But Zaya started doing more research. She was the one that sat down with us as a family and said, ‘Hey I don’t think I’m gay.’
“And she went down the list and said, ‘This is how I identify myself, this is my gender identity. I identify myself as a young lady. I think I’m a straight trans, because I like boys,'” he added.
The retired athlete had not spoken as frequently about his son’s transition in recent months, posting from time to time on social media and briefly discussing the parenting implications on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” earlier this month.
But with “D. Wade: Life Unexpected,” an ESPN career documentary 10 years in the making, nearing release and in- art detailing the transition, Wade has grown increasingly more vocal, taking the experience as a call to become an empowered and outspoken LGBT “ally” and transgender advocate.
In fact, according to Wade, the experience has led him to believe gender transitions among are the “new normal.” Those who believe otherwise, he told “All The Smoke” podcast hosts Matt Barnes and Stephen Jackson in December — they are the ones who are “different.”
D. Wade: Life Unexpected premieres February 23 on ESPN at 9 pm ET.
— ESPN (@espn) February 15, 2020
The retired NBA star told Ellen DeGeneres that he takes his role as an LGBTQ ally for 12-year-old Zaya “very seriously.” https://t.co/Mrz8uDs3FW
— HuffPost (@HuffPost) February 12, 2020
The upcoming documentary is said to detail Wade’s storied NBA career, focusing on the Miami Heat star’s final years in the league and the growing family dynamic that brought him away from the game of basketball.
Apparently, however, Wade did not step away from basketball to better lead his family.
Instead, he stepped away to learn a thing or two from his children, letting them lead him — even in through their own adolescent crises of identity.
“I knew early on that I had to check myself,” Wade told Roberts, “that I had to ask myself questions.”
“As I got older and as I watched my daughter grow I had to go look at myself in the mirror and say, ‘Who are you? What are you going to do if your child comes home and says dad, I’m not a boy, I’m a gay boy, or I’m a trans girl — what are you gonna do?’ And for me that was a moment of real.”
“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,” Wade also said. “We decided to listen to [Zaya] and she’s leading us on this journey.”
“My daughter was my first interaction when it comes to having to deal with this conversation. Hopefully I’m dealing with it the right way,” he later added.
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