Gabrielle Union’s self-love advice to Zaya Wade is the sweetest thing you’ll read on the internet today

Zaya Wade (L) and Gabrielle Union (R).

Zaya Wade has opened up about how stepmum Gabrielle Union has helped her find self-love during her transition.

The 15-year-old daughter to former NBA star Dwyane Wade publicly came out as trans in 2019, aged 12, and has since found her strongest allies in Dwyane and Gabrielle.

Over the years, both have been vocal in their unwavering support for Zaya, and earlier this month, championed her as she walked her first runway during Paris Fashion Week and supported her throughout the process of legally changing her name and gender.

In a new interview for the spring 2023 issue of Dazed, Zaya opened about the inspiring life lessons she has learned from Gabrielle on her journey to self-acceptance. 

“The lesson has changed over time, but more recently it’s that beauty is in yourself,” she explained. “It’s about being you and expressing yourself the way you want to.

“She tries to teach me that beauty standards are arbitrary and that they don’t mean anything. They don’t matter any more; what people thought was the standard is not. And just that being myself is the best technique out there.”

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The message is particularly heartwarming considering Dwyane’s legal battle with ex-wife Siohvaughn Funches-Wade who he has accused of “fighting Zaya’s identity”.

Gabrielle Union (L), Zaya Wade and Dwayne Wade at Paris Fashion Week
Gabrielle Union (L), Zaya Wade and Dwayne Wade at Paris Fashion Week

Zaya also explained that her whole family has been on a learning journey when it comes to trans identity and the LGBTQ+ community.

“So many big changes have happened over the last couple of years with me, but also just in general,” she continued. “I think it’s not my job, but it’s my honour to continue and further my family’s education and appreciation for the entire LBGTQ+ community as we grow together.

“As our understanding of acceptance has broadened over the past couple of years, we have made the strides to keep ourselves educated and combat the ignorance.”

She admitted the positives definitely outweigh the negatives when it comes to sharing her journey on such a public platform thanks to her “giant support system”.

“It has allowed me to let in the positivity and distribute it to all of the trans people in the world who need a voice and give them a platform to get inspired to live with themselves without being afraid,” she explained.

And in a time when trans rightsespecially for young Black people – are under threat, Zaya wants to tell others that they “are not alone”.

“I wish I knew that as a kid because I felt so isolated,” she said, “thinking there was no one else like me. And the percentage of trans adults versus trans children is such a wide difference. [When you’re] a child at school you’re like, ‘I’m trans, and I don’t see many trans people, so I feel isolated, I feel different from anyone.’

“But that is not the only community. There are thousands of communities waiting [for you], and the trans community is forever growing. Even if you can’t have direct contact with them, just seeing their experience is so accessible because of social media. Other people can inspire you.”

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