“We Do This as Parents”: Dwyane Wade and Gabrielle Union-Wade’s Emotional Call to Support Trans Kids

“My role is to be a facilitator to your hopes, your wishes, your dreams.”

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Nearly three months into 2023, it’s easier to count the states that aren’t considering legislation attacking LGBTQ rights. Around 327 bills proposed this legislative session target queer and trans people across the country, and much of their impact would fall on kids: the nonbinary student afraid of losing their home and family if their school outs them to their parents, the trans preteen hoping to delay puberty while they take their time understanding their gender.

For the last two years, under the banner of “parents’ rights,” conservatives have pushed to ban books involving queer issues and racism, end the teaching of African American studies, and restrict discussion of LGBTQ issues. But as Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund senior counsel Gabriel Arkles observed to Salon, this conception of parental rights is “super-selective”: “They certainly do not want to support the rights of parents that support trans kids, only the rights of parents that don’t want their trans kids to exist,” Arkles said.

In this climate, the voices of parents who support their trans children are particularly resonant. So it was an emotional moment at the NAACP Image Awards yesterday, when NBA superstar Dwyane Wade praised his 15-year-old daughter, Zaya, whose legal name and gender change were approved by a Los Angeles judge on Friday. “I admire how you handle the ignorance in our world,” Wade said, addressing Zaya onstage. “As your father my job isn’t to create a version of myself that directs your future. My role is to be a facilitator to your hopes, your wishes, your dreams.”

And actor Gabrielle Union-Wade called on the racial justice movement to make “room for everyone.” “The intersection of Black rights and the rights of the LGBTQIA, trans and gender non-conforming people continues to be rough,” she said. “Even as we demand equality at the top of our lungs, we consistently fail to extend our advocacy to protect some of our most vulnerable.”

The pair were onstage to accept the NAACP president’s award for their philanthropy, which involves supporting organizations that fight bullying and provide healthcare to queer and trans patients. “We honestly don’t approach this work as activists or leaders, as much as we do this as parents,” Gabrielle Union-Wade added. “Parents who love our children and will do whatever the hell we can to keep them seen and secure and safe.” 

Watch the speeches here:

 

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