Dwyane Wade: My Daughter Zaya Has Known Her Gender Identity Since Age 3

Although Dwyane Wade’s 12-year-old daughter, Zaya, only recently came out as transgender, she has been aware of her gender identity for a long time.

“She’s known it for nine years, since she was 3 years old,” the former NBA player, 38, told Robin Roberts on Good Morning America on Tuesday, February 18. “And along this way, we’ve asked questions and we’ve learned. But she’s known.”

When the news anchor, 59, asked Wade whether he knew, he responded, “I knew early on that I had to check myself. That’s what I knew. I knew early on that I had to ask myself questions.”

The basketball legend admitted that he “has said the wrong phrases and the wrong words” in the past during locker-room banter, but he has since gone out of his way to become an informed individual.

“As I got older and I watched my daughter grow, I had to go and 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 trans girl.’ What are you going to do?’” he said. “That was my moment of real.”

Wade explained to Roberts that Zaya came to him one day 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 [girl] because I like boys.’”

The 13-time NBA All-Star confirmed on The Ellen DeGeneres Show on February 11 that Zaya came out as trans, telling the studio audience that she was “born as a boy” and “originally named Zion.” Later that day, Wade’s wife, Gabrielle Union, shared a video on Instagram and Twitter of the preteen urging people to “push through and … be the best you.”

Zaya’s brother Zaire, 18, also publicly supported her, writing on Instagram on February 12, “I have been blessed to have my best friend, Zaya with me for 12 years. We did everything together … we fought, we played, we laughed and we cried. But the one thing we never did was leave each other behind.”

Wade shares Zaire and Zaya with his ex-wife, Siohvaughn Funches, son Xavier, 6, with ex Aja Metoyer and daughter Kaavia, 15 months, with Union.

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