Dwyane Wade knows he is the father of a “leader.” And now he’s inviting the world to join him in celebrating 12-year-old Zaya Wade.
In a new interview on The Ellen Degeneres Show promoting his forthcoming ESPN documentary, D Wade: Life Unexpected, the NBA legend remembered what happened the day Zaya came home from school and asked for her name and pronouns to be affirmed by her parents.
“Zaya came home and said, ‘Hey, I want to talk to you guys. I think going forward, I’m ready to live my truth. I want to be referenced as she and her. I would love for you guys to call me Zaya,'” he told Degeneres. “So internally it’s our job to one, go out and get information, to reach out to every relationship that we have. My wife [actor Gabrielle Union] reached out to everyone on the cast of Pose. We just tried to figure out as much information as we can to help our child be her best self.”
This isn’t the first time Wade has openly discussed Zaya’s gender identity; in December, he appeared on the podcast All The Smoke to talk about his role as a father to a member of the LGBTQ+ community. At the time, he affirmed Zaya’s pronouns, but only referred to her as his 12-year-old. He also opened up about how parenting Zaya pushed him to reflect on how to be a better father, a theme that he revisited during his Ellen appearance.
“We take our roles and responsibilities as parents very seriously,” Wade said of his tandem efforts with Union. “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 now that sexuality [and gender] is involved.”
The Wade family has been visibly supportive of Zaya’s coming out for years, attending LGBTQ+ Pride parades with her and defending her from homophobic attempts by strangers on social media to police her clothing choices and self-expression. But while Wade is currently putting everyone else on notice about Zaya’s identity, he’s making it clear that Zaya’s story is hers alone to decide.
“Once Zaya came home and said, ‘I want you to call me Zaya and I’m ready to take on this,’ I looked at her and said, ‘You are a leader. And this is our opportunity to allow you to be a voice,’” Wade said. “Right now it’s through us, because she’s 12 years old, but eventually it will be through her.”
To learn more about issues affecting the LGBTQ+ community, head to lgbt.mtv.com.