It’s official, Zaya Wade was granted an official name change and assignment of gender in a Los Angeles Court on Friday.
Wade has gone by "Zaya" since 2020 after coming out as transgender. With the support of her father, former NBA player Dwyane Wade, and stepmother, Gabrielle Union, Wade has come into herself and popular culture, recently featuring in Puma’s ‘Forever.Classic’ campaign alongside Angus Cloud, Caleb McLaughlin and Iris Apatow.
Union and her husband have become voices of LGBTQ+ allyship and were honored with the President’s Award at the 2023 NAACP Image Awards “in recognition of special achievement and distinguished public service.”
The couple used their time to honor Wade and shine a light on the injustices facing LGBTQ+ youth today, with over 120 anti-trans bills introduced across the United States in 2023.
“Black trans people are being targeted, terrorized, and hunted in this country every day, everywhere, and there’s rarely whisper about it,” Union said in an impassioned speech. “We honestly don’t approach this work as activists or leaders as much as we do this as parents,” she said. “Parents who love our children and will do whatever the hell we can to keep them seen and secure and safe.”
Dwyane spoke directly to his daughter, sharing: “Zaya, as your father, all I’ve wanted to do was get it right. I’ve sat back and watched how gracefully you’ve taken on the public scrutiny. And even though it’s not easy, I watched you walk out of that house every morning as yourself. I admire how you’ve handled the ignorance in our world.”
The road to legally affirming Wade's name and gender was no cakewalk since her father's filing in August 2022. In filing last November, Wade's biological mother, Siohvaughn Funches-Wade, alleged Dwyane was using their daughter's pursuit of name and gender affirmation to “profit.”
The former basketball player responded to the allegations on Instagram, stating, "I've received a social media post about me forcing our 15 year old child to be someone she's not and to do something against her will. These are serious and harmful allegations that have hurt our children.”
With that behind her, Zaya Wade is embarking on her life and future as wholly herself.
Photo courtesy of Jacopo Raule/GC Images
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