Gabrielle Union's Tweets About Daughter Zaya: 'We Are So Proud!'

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Wednesday February 12, 2020

Not long after NBCA star Dwyane Wade appeared on "Ellen" to talk about the leadership he says his trans daughter exhibited in coming out, Wade's wife, Gabrielle Union, sent out a series of Tweets to say that she and her husband are proud of "compassionate, whip-smart" 12-year-old Zaya.

As reported at EDGE, Wade's appearance on "Ellen" featured the sports star talking about how seriously he and Union take their parental responsibilities. "First of all..." Wade told Ellen, "we are proud... we are proud parents of a child in the LGBTQ+ community. And we're proud allies, as well. We take our role and our responsibilities as parents very seriously."

Union was evidently 100% on board with her husband remarks, tweeting on Feb. 11: "Meet Zaya. She's compassionate, loving, whip-smart and we are so proud of her," reports People.

Added Union: "It's Ok to listen to, love & respect your children exactly as they are. Love and light good people."

About an hour later, Union followed up with another tweet, offering thanks to those who had "who provided information, resources, love & encouragement."

Tweeted Union: "We are humble LGBTQ+ allies with ALOT to learn & grateful for all the support."

During his "Ellen" appearance, Wade explained that to him and Union, good, responsible parenting means, in part, being willing to offer their child "the best information that we can" when she faces any issue or has any questions.

Wade then recounted how one day his daughter, Zaya - previously known as Zion - "Came home and said, 'Hey, I want to talk to you guys. I think going forward I'm ready to live my truth.' "

That truth: Wade and Union's child was not a son; she was a daughter.

At that point, Wade said, "now it was our job to... get information, to reach out to every relationship that we have" in order to get "as much information as we can to make sure that we give our child the best opportunity to be her best self."

Some of that information, though, needed to come from Zaya herself. Though lawmakers and religious leaders have stepped up anti-trans attacks of late - including proposals to criminalize medically appropriate care for trans children (such as a recently-defeated bill in South Dakota) and attempts to legally define the gender of individuals according to their anatomical physiology - trans people are the only people qualified to say with certainty how they identify in terms of gender.

Science backs them, with a growing body of evidence that there are specific differences in the brain structures of cisgender and trans people.

It's no surprise, then, that trans people often know from extremely young ages that their experienced, deeply innate gender does not agree with their physical appearance - or with the expectations projected onto them by other people, who too often base their assumptions about a person's gender purely on visual assessments.

But gender identity, like everything else about the human organism, seems more and more likely to be tied to genetics. a recent paper published in the journal Scientific Reports suggested a direct connection between a suite of 21 genes and trans identity.

Researchers were clued in to look for underling genetic reasons for trans identities because trans people very often know at extremely young ages that their physiological development is at odds with their innate and unchangeable gender identity.

Wade explained to Ellen how he and Union left it to Zaya to take the lead when it comes to knowing who she is.

"I looked at her and said, 'You're our leader. You're our leader, and it's our opportunity to allow you to be a voice.' Right now it's through us because she's twelve years old, but eventually, it will be through her."

But "eventually" might just be right now; Union's tweet included video of Wade turning the lens onto Zaya and letting her speak for herself.

"Be true to yourself," Zaya says in the video. "What's the point of being on this earth if you're going to try to be someone you're not?"

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.