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Parenting

Gabrielle Union says supporting her trans stepdaughter Zaya is simply her job as a parent – and the alternative is ‘heartbreaking’

Nick Duffy May 5, 2020
Dwyane Wade

Dwyane Wade, Zaya Wade and Gabrielle Union pose for the cameras (Andrew Toth/Getty)

Gabrielle Union has said it’s “odd” to get recognition to be supportive of her trans stepdaughter – because it’s her job as a parent.

The Bring It On actress has four kids with former NBA star Dwyane Wade, including Wade’s 12-year-old daughter Zaya, who came out as transgender in February.

The family made the decision to speak out publicly about Zaya’s transition to help educate others, but Union says they weren’t expecting the level of plaudits they have received.

Gabrielle Union: ‘It’s odd to get recognition for doing what you’re supposed to.’

In an interview with The Ellen DeGeneres Show on Monday, Union said: “To us, it’s a little odd to get any kind of recognition for doing what you’re supposed to do, which is love, and accept, and embrace your kids. So it’s odd to get recognition for that.

“But unfortunately, there are so many people who just don’t. They just don’t. And so many people who really truly feel like their kids are disposable.

“If they’re not perfect images of them, they’re not interested. And it’s heartbreaking. So we’re just doing what is natural to us, and loving her.

“We just want happy, healthy, compassionate kids. So we try to lead with that.”

Union was on the show to promote her new children’s book Welcome to the Party, inspired by the birth of her youngest daughter, Kaavia.

The actress explained that the book sends a clear message of celebrating all kinds of families, no matter how they came together.

She said: “As an LGBT+ ally, I see a lot of my friends have chosen families, and nobody really celebrates them.

“I want to be able to celebrate all of our families, no matter how they’re created. And just letting everyone know that they are welcome at this party called life.

“We wanted to start the little, little guys off knowing that they’re welcome and they’re celebrated.”

Dwyane Wade says Zaya is ‘leading us along this journey’.

Zaya’s transition has generated a large reaction – and some inevitable hate.

Dwyane Wade said previously that the family had “struggled” before deciding to share the news.

Gabrielle Union spoke about her stepdaughter Zaya Wade
Gabrielle Union spoke about her stepdaughter Zaya Wade

He explained: “We struggled with that, because she’s 12, and what people would say about a 12-year-old making a decision about her life.

“But we know our child, and it’s our job as parents to find the most information we can. We’ve reached out to people and researched as many things as we can to try to help, not only our family, but other people in this journey and along the way.”

Wade added that he had been “ignorant” about trans issues before his daughter came out – moving him and Union to do research.

He said: “I’ve been a person in a locker room that has been a part of the conversation that has said the wrong phrases and the wrong words myself (…) It was a process for us to sit down with our daughter and find out who she is and what she likes, and not put something on her – because as parents, we put our hopes and our fears on our kids.

“With Zaya, we decided to listen to her. She’s leading us along this journey.

“She’s known it for nine years. She’s known since she was three years old along this way we’ve asked questions and we’ve learned. But she’s known.”

More: Dwyane Wade, Gabrielle Union, Parenting, the ellen show, Trans, Welcome to the Party, Zaya Wade

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