Actor Hill Harper apologises for misgendering Zaya Wade on her birthday while plugging his own book
The Good Doctor star Hill Harper has apologised for misgendering Zaya Wade in a birthday message to her, which he used as an opportunity to promote his book.
Zaya, the transgender daughter of former NBA star Dwyane Wade, turned thirteen on Friday (May 29). Her stepmother Gabrielle Union marked the occasion with a celebratory post on Instagram.
Her loving post was flooded with comments from well wishers, but not everyone had something positive to say. Hill Harper, who calls himself a “family friend” of the Wades, instead used the moment to misgender the teen.
“Happy Birthday young man!! Read Letters to a Young Brother!!!” he wrote. “Your mom wrote something in it!! You’ll love it! Have a great day!!”
Though Harper is best known for his roles in CSI: NY, Homeland and Limitless, he’s also an author of several motivational self-help books. ‘Letters to a Young Brother: MANifest your destiny’ is specifically geared towards men.
Harper has written a book for women, ‘Letters to a Young Sister: DeFINE Your Destiny’ – but for some strange reason he chose not to suggest this one for Zaya.
View this post on Instagram
Happy Birthday baby!!! I can’t believe you are 13!! @zayawade you are such an inspiration and motivation to get my butt up everyday and fight. When I’m weary, frustrated, full of rage, I see your face and your joy and you living your best life and I want that for all of us. I love you sooooo much kid!! Enjoy this day and everyday knowing you are loved, protected, respected, admired and celebrated. ♥️♥️♥️♥️
The shameless plug was condemned by over a hundred commenters, who called his words “disgusting,” “Blatantly disrespectful,” and “full of malice.”
As the criticism grew Harper eventually backtracked, deleting his post and issuing a lengthy apology on Twitter.
“I would like to apologise for my post. I am responsible for what gets posted and I made a horrible error,” he wrote.
“I misgendered my friend’s child and I am so sorry to Zaya and the entire Wade family. It was not my intention to misgender and misrepresent her in any way. I celebrate Zaya.
“As a family friend I feel so bad that I may have taken away from the celebration. Zaya’s courage and strength is something I celebrate. And there was absolutely no malicious intent to my post.
“I am human and I am learning and often trying to do too many things which leads to mistakes like this one. I am sorry. I’m sorry to those my post offended, that was certainly not my intention.”
There are many challenging things going on in the world right now and I certainly didn’t intend my birthday wish to be a negative distraction and certainly didn’t want it to take away from a celebratory birthday for Zaya. I extend my heartfelt apology to Zaya, the Wade family.
— Hill Harper (@hillharper) May 29, 2020
He continued: “There are many challenging things going on in the world right now and I certainly didn’t intend my birthday wish to be a negative distraction and certainly didn’t want it to take away from a celebratory birthday for Zaya.
“I extend my heartfelt apology to Zaya, the Wade family.”