Dwyane Wade and his wife Gabrielle Union accepted the prestigious President’s Award for their support of the LGBTQ+ community at the 2023 NAACP awards on Saturday.
It comes just a day after the 40-year-old former professional basketball player’s daughter, 15 – who came out as trans back in 2019 at the age of 12 – was granted a legal name and gender change, despite her mother’s opposition.
The NBA star took the moment to address his daughter – now legally named Zaya Malachi Airamis Wade – praising her for handling the ‘ignorance in our world’, while Gabrielle, 50, made an impassioned speech stating that ‘black trans people are being targeted, terrorized, and hunted in this country.’
Dwyane spoke to his teenager: ‘Zaya, as your father, all I’ve wanted to do is get it right. I have sat back and watched how graceful you have taken on the public scrutiny and even though it’s not easy, I watched you walk out of the house every morning as yourself.’
‘I admire how you have handled the ignorance in our world. I admire that you face it every day. To say that your village is proud of you is an understatement,’ the proud father went on.
Prestigious award: Dwyane Wade and his wife Gabrielle Union accepted the President’s Award for their support of the LGBTQ+ community at the 2023 NAACP awards on Saturday
The latest: It comes just a day after his transgender daughter Zaya, 15, was granted a legal name and gender change, following a legal battle with his ex-wife Siohvaughn Funches-Wade; Dwyane and Zaya pictured 2022
‘Thank you for showing me that there is more than just one way to communicate effectively. You taught me that communication with my mouth isn’t enough,’ he went on.
‘I have to also communicate with my two ears and my two eyes. As your father, my job isn’t to create a version of myself or direct your future. My role is to be a facilitator to your hopes, your wishes, your dreams.’
‘Zaya, you have made me a better human just simply by being who you were born to be. Our baby girl, Zaya Wade. Thank you for showing the world what courage looks like. I am proud that I was chosen to stand in place as your father. Thank you so much to the NAACP for this incredible honor,’ he added.
Dwyane also spoke about him and Gabrielle using their platform: ‘We stand up here today as two people who have worked tirelessly to have resources and access. As two people willing to use our microphones for what we believe and what other families are going through.’
‘I’m intentional when I use my platform. I recognize what I’ve been given and it is my job to uplift the voices of others and share my access and resources.’
The actress also took a moment to speak about the couple’s activism. ‘It’s humbling to stand here, surrounded by friends and heroes, OG’s and icons all working to advance the lives of black people and pay respect to an organization that has led us through over a century of relentless challenge, pain, triumph, and change.’
‘And now stands with us again at the foot of a new era of activism. A new era that demands our collective answer to one simple question: Will we fight for some or will we fight for all of our people?’
‘Let’s just name a couple hard truths: First, the intersection of black rights and the rights of the LGBTQ, trans, and gender non-conforming people continues to be rough. Huge understatement.’
Praise: The NBA star took the moment to address his daughter – now legally named Zaya Malachi Airamis Wade – praising her for handling the ‘ignorance in our world’
Proud father: ‘I have sat back and watched how graceful you have taken on the public scrutiny and even though it’s not easy, I watched you walk out of the house every morning as yourself’
Passionate: Meanwhile Gabrielle, 50, made an impassioned speech stating that ‘black trans people are being targeted, terrorized, and hunted in this country. Every day, everywhere’
Activists: ‘This is a conversation worth having in ways that build bridges, that don’t fan the flames of hatred or division, that don’t enable lawmakers or justice systems to look the other way when black trans people are under attack,’ she added
She went on, ‘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 amongst us. And second, black trans people are being targeted, terrorized, and hunted in this country. Every day, everywhere.’
‘And there is rarely a whisper about it. We honestly don’t approach this work as activists or leaders as much as we do this as parents who love our children and will do whatever the hell we can to keep them seen, secure, and safe.’
‘This is a conversation worth having in ways that build bridges, that don’t fan the flames of hatred or division, that don’t enable lawmakers or justice systems to look the other way when black trans people are under attack,’ she added.
‘That don’t drive more young people to hate or harm themselves, that don’t cost people their lives. So, we are humbled and hopeful for the future. I’m hopeful, we are hopeful that we may be witness a real shift in the fight for justice. The moment the movement makes room for everyone. Everyone,’ Union stated, wrapping up her impassioned speech.
Following a court battle between Dwyane and his ex-wife, Siohvaughn Funches-Wade, Zaya was granted a legal name and gender change.
A Los Angeles County judge signed off on the new identity for the 15-year-old child in documents obtained by TMZ.
The judge also granted her official gender change from male to female. The petition for the name and gender was filed last August. Last November, Zaya’s mother contested the petition made by Wade, claiming that their child was being pressured financially to make the decision.
Since coming out Zaya has won modelling contracts with brands like Tiffany, Dove and amassed hundreds of thousands of social media followers. According to her mother, she is also in talks for deals with Disney.
Press room: The couple later posed with their award in the press room
Parents: The duo have been married since 2014, and share four-year-old daughter Kaavia. Dwyane also shares Zaya and son Zaire, 21, with Siohvaughn, as well as son Xavier, nine, with Aja Metoyer
Good looking pair: Dwyane looked handsome in an all-black suit, while Gabrielle stunned in a multi-color sleeveless dress
Dynamic trio: They also posed with Social Justice Impact Award winner Benjamin Crump
Hand-in-hand: The couple posed up a storm on the red carpet earlier in the day as they held hands
Cuddled up: The duo cuddled up together inside the event
Mingling: They were also seen mingling with Vanessa Bell
The retired NBA star argued in court that he had the ‘full authority’ to ‘make decisions on behalf’ of Zaya when he was awarded custody of his two children in 2011 against Siohvaughn, RadarOnline reported last month.
Funches-Wade filed an objection to the Los Angeles County Superior Court in November over Zaya’s name change, accusing Wade of exploiting their daughter for financial gain.
In his latest filing, Wade said the allegations were ‘unsubstantiated.’ He also claimed that his ex failed to prove why the name change wouldn’t be in Zaya’s best interest.
Wade also said that Funches-Wade’s opposition to a court petition to allow Zaya the legal changes was ‘libelous’ and ‘nonsensical,’ TMZ reported at the time.
Funches-Wade told the court in November that the NBA alum was looking to finically exploit Zaya’s story amid business opportunities with companies including Disney.
Wade, who played for the Miami Heat, Cleveland Cavaliers and Chicago Bulls during his career, told the court that it was in the ‘best interest’ of Zaya to approve the petition.
He said that ‘a court order affirming her identity will allow Zaya to live more comfortably and honestly in all aspects of her life – from simple introductions and food orders, to applying for a driver’s license and filling out college applications.’
Wade said the ‘petition is about allowing Zaya to take on the milestones of being a young adult with confidence and joy.’
Wade (left) previously asked the Los Angeles County Superior Court to throw out his ex-wife’s petition against their daughter’s name change request. Siohvaughn (right) claimed her ex is pressuring a name change for financial gains
Changes: The former professional basketball player’s child – who came out as trans back in 2020 – is now legally named Zaya Malachi Airamis Wade; Pictured 2022
Gender change: The judge also granted her official gender change from male to female. The petition for the name and gender was filed last August; Pictured with Dwyane and Gabrielle in 2021
Wade’s lawyers added, ‘Siohvaughn’s allegations are libelous at their core, and are, at best, nonsensical. Dwyane filed this Petition because Zaya asked him to.’
In August, Wade filed a petition to allow Zaya to legally change her gender, and name from Zion Malachi Airamis Wade to Zaya Malachi Airamis Wade. Zaya has been going by the name of Zaya for two years.
Funches-Wade previously said in court docs that she believed Wade ‘may be pressuring our child to move forward with the name and gender change in order to capitalize on the financial opportunities that he has received from companies.’
In her filed opposition, she said she wants Zaya to wait until she’s 18 before changing her name and alleging that Wade was pushing for the name change for business.
‘I have concerns that (Dwyane) may be pressuring our child to move forward with the name and gender change in order to capitalize on the financial opportunities that he has received from companies,’ she said in her legal filing.
She also cited a conversation in April during which she claims Dwyane told her ‘that a lot of money had been already made and that additional money will be made in relation to our child’s name and gender issue.’
Mom wanted to wait: Siohvaughn wanted Zaya to wait until she is 18 before legally changing her name and her gender from male to female
Concerns: ‘I have concerns that (Dwyane) may be pressuring our child to move forward with the name and gender change in order to capitalize on the financial opportunities that he has received from companies,’ Siohvaughn said in her legal filing
Best interest: However Wade told the court that it was in the ‘best interest’ of Zaya to approve the petition; Pictured 2020
Among Zaya’s new modeling jobs is a contract with Tiffany. She appeared in a recent campaign for the jewelry brand
‘(Dwyane) told me that he intended to make our child very famous due to the name and gender issue and also informed me that there would be endorsements/contracts associated therewith,’ she claims.
Funches-Wade and Wade were married between 2002 and 2010. They also share older son Zaire, 20.
Wade filed for divorce in 2007, the same year he met Gabrielle Union, who he went on to marry in 2014.
Since 2019, the two described how Zaya came out to them, and how they now know her as her ‘authentic self’.
‘Our (then) 12-year-old came home…and said, ‘Hey, I want to talk to you guys. I think going forward, I’m ready to live my truth and I want to be referenced as she and her and I would love for you guys to call me Zaya,’ he told Ellen DeGeneres during an appearance on her show.
In a later interview with People, he said Zaya’s transition gave him ‘hope’.
He first spoke of her transition in 2019 on Matt Barnes’ podcast, All The Smoke.
‘I had to look myself in the mirror. When my son at the time was three years old and me and my wife start having conversations about us noticing that he wasn’t on the boy vibe that [older brother] Zaire was on.
Dwyane has spoken openly and frequently about his daughter’s transition and is now an LGBTQ advocate. He is shown on Ellen, describing how Zaya came out to the family
‘I had to look myself in the mirror and say ‘what if your son comes home and tells you he’s gay?’ What are you going to do?
‘You’re going to talk about strength and courage. My 12 year old has way more than I have. You can learn something from your kids. In our household, that’s all we talk about. We talk about making sure our kids be seen by each of us. We want them to be whoever they feel they can be in this world. That’s our goal.
‘I watched my son, from day one, become into who she now eventually has come into.
‘And for me, it’s all about: Nothing changes with my love. Nothing changes in my responsibilities. So, all I had to do now is get smarter, educate myself more. And that’s my job,’ he said.
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