ENTERTAINMENT
19/02/2020 5:21 PM AEDT

Dwyane Wade: My Transgender Daughter Knew Her Identity At 3 Years Old

The retired NBA star told "Good Morning America" seeing 12-year-old Zaya live as her authentic self was "a moment of real" for him and his wife, Gabrielle Union.

Dwyane Wade has continued to open up about his journey as the parent of a transgender daughter, crediting 12-year-old Zaya with being his family’s “leader” in what’s seemingly turned out to be a life-changing process. 

During a Tuesday appearance on “Good Morning America,” the retired NBA legend said he had never had a close relationship with a member of the LGBTQ community before Zaya, whom he said was 3 years old when she first identified as transgender.

“Zaya, early on, knew two things,” Wade told host Robin Roberts. “She knew ‘straight’ and she knew ‘gay.’ But Zaya started doing more research. ... She went down the list and said, ‘This is how I identify myself. This is my gender identity.’” 

The retired NBA star said he and his wife, Gabrielle Union, took the moment as an opportunity to “sit down with our daughter and find out who she is and what she likes and not put something on her.”

“As parents, we put our hopes and our fears on our kids,” he added. “With Zaya, we decided to listen to her. She’s leading us along this journey.” 

Wade, who is also dad to Zaire Blessing Dwyane, 18, Xavier Zechariah, 6, and Kaavia James, 15 months, touches on his daughter’s gender identity in a new ESPN documentary, “D. Wade: Life Unexpected.”

He demonstrated his support for Zaya in an appearance on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” last week, explaining that he took his relatively newfound role as an LGBTQ ally “very seriously.” That same day, Union ― who is Zaya’s stepmother ― shared a short video of Zaya on social media in an effort to encourage others to “listen to, love [and] respect” their children as they are.

Seeing Zaya live as her authentic self at an early age, he told Roberts in the  “GMA” interview Tuesday, was “a moment of real.”

“I knew early on that I had to check myself,” Wade said. “I knew early on that I had to ask myself questions. I’ve been a person in a locker room that has been a part of the conversation that has said the wrong words and the wrong phrases myself. As I get older and as I watched my daughter grow, I had to look myself in the mirror and say, ‘Who are you?’”

As for the advice he would give to other parents who may be struggling with their child’s sexuality or gender identity, Wade stressed that he didn’t “have all the answers” but hoped his experience would prompt others to “have an open mind.”  

“Go out and research,” he said. “Ask your child, ask other people questions about this. This conversation is real.”