Dwyane Wade and Gabrielle Union share how leaving Florida helped trans daughter Zaya ‘blossom’

Zaya Wade, Kaavia James Union Wade, Gabrielle Union, and Dwyane Wade attend the premiere of Disney's Cheaper By The Dozen

Basketball legend Dwyane Wade and his wife, actress Gabrielle Union, have expanded on their decision to move away from Florida and its anti-LGBTQ+ legislation.

In April, Wade confirmed that he had swapped the Sunshine state for a new life in California, largely to ensure his daughter, 16-year-old, trans trailblazing model Zaya, could feel safe and comfortable.

Florida governor, and Republican presidential hopeful, Ron DeSantis, has introduced a raft of anti-LGBTQ+ bills during his tenure, including the Don’t Say Gay bill which prevents teachers from discussing or teaching about the LGBTQ+ community.

Trans people in the state have also been barred from using toilets that assign with their gender identity, while Florida legislators recently attempted to restrict gender-affirming healthcare, although this bill was struck down by district court judge Robert Hinkle in June.

Speaking to publication Parents, Wade delved into the decision to leave, despite leading Miami Heat to historic victories during his career in the National Basketball Association (NBA).

“There are a lot of reasons we decided California was best for our family, and finding a community for Zaya was a big part of that,” he explained. “We felt that California was a place that would allow her to blossom and grow. She’s going to be a junior in high school now, and she’s been able to be accepted and become her here.”

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Union, who is Zaya’s stepmother, agreed, saying that it was “not an option” to remain in Florida as it “isn’t safe” for trans children.

Zaya came out as trans in 2020, and her parents have been vocal in support of their daughter.

A graphic of Gabrielle Union and Dwyane Wade with a trans Pride flag in the background as they honour their trans child, Zaya, and the LGBTQ+ community during their NAACP Image Awards speech
Dwyane Wade and Gabrielle Union honoured Zaya during an award ceremony earlier this year. (Getty)

Accepting the president’s award at the 54th annual National Association for the Advancement of Colored People ceremony earlier this year, Wade praised her for how she’s dealt with the world’s “ignorance” when it comes to trans people.

“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,” he said.

“I admire how you’ve handled the ignorance in our world. I admire what you face every day. To say that your village is proud of you, is an understatement.”

The importance of having a parent who is not only accepting of a trans child, but routinely fights for and celebrates them, is not lost on him, either. 

“Zaya has been living with us since she was three, and my daughter can walk down a runway in Paris for the first time with all the confidence in the world because we’ve been cheering for her since then,” he told Parents.

Even now, he will frequently sit with Zaya for “two or three hours” and listen to her talk about the trans community.

Zaya Wade on the runway (L) and Zaya Wade with parents Gabrielle Union and Dwyane
Zaya Wade on the runway (L), and with parents Gabrielle Union and Dwyane Wade. (Getty/Twitter/@DwyaneWade)

While trans people and allies have applauded Wade and Union for following in the footsteps of other supportive celebrity parents of trans children, such as Jamie Lee Curtis and Cher, others have noted that getting up and leaving Florida isn’t as easy for everyone.

In response, Union vowed that her family would continue supporting all trans children who are enduring the wrath of anti-LGBTQ+ politicians.

“We are going to be fighting till we are out of breath to protect all kids who are oppressed,” she declared. “That is our responsibility as people with large platforms and as people who folks trust. They trust us because we say the hard thing.”

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