Zaya Wade explains how she deals with ‘hateful’ trolls with grace and wisdom beyond her years

Zaya Wade stares at the camera while wearing a black and white floral patterned outfit

Zaya Wade has explained how she handled “hateful comments” about her femininity after she came out as trans.

The teen – who is the daughter of basketball legend Dwyane Wade – opened up in a joint interview for People with supportive stepmum, Gabrielle Union. 

“As a trans person, once I came out, there was a lot of hateful comments about how I should grow my hair out long or fit into a certain version of femininity, even though that’s not true at all,” Zaya said. “That kind of advice is just trying to break you, but don’t let it.”

She added that one of the most important lessons she’s learned from Union was that “not everyone in the world and in the media is going to be truthful about what you look like”. 

“I don’t have to believe everything they say,” Zaya explained. “The only thing I have to believe is what I feel and what beauty means to me.”

For Zaya Wade, “focusing on inner beauty is the most important thing”.

She urged young people not to follow unrealistic, unhealthy beauty standards to feel fulfilled. 

“We don’t need to follow anyone into feeling unworthy or not beautiful,” she said. “We have the power over our own feeds to remove the content that doesn’t make us feel good and instead flood our feeds with the positivity that we both want to see and put out into the world.”

Union told People that she and her husband often “try to stress” the value of “internal beauty” to Zaya. The Cheaper By the Dozen star added that they also teach their daughter that there is “no one way to be a woman or to be feminine”.

“There are a billion ways to exist because there are billions of people and each person has the ability to decide for themselves how they want to exist in the world and how they want to move through the world,” Union said. “We talk to her about resisting anti-Blackness and not centring Eurocentric beauty ideals.”

Gabrielle Union and Dwyane Wade recently paid tribute to Zaya during a heartfelt interview on the 2022 Met Gala red carpet. The retired NBA star said he continues to fight for his daughter’s rights as he is also on a journey with her and wanted to help his child have an affirming future. 

“Being a father… is to make sure that you sit back and see what it is in life that they want to do and try to go there with them, and try to help them, mould them into who it is they want to be,” he said. 

He implored other parents of trans kids to never let “all the emotions that went through your mind and how much love filled your heart” when they first looked at their child to leave them as the kid discovers their identity. 

“As parents, we find our mini-mes and we try to make them just like us, but our kids are going to be who they are and it’s our job to help mould them,” Dwayne said.

Union added: “And we believe them when they tell us who they are!”


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