Dwyane Wade is quickly becoming more famous for his rock-steady parenting than he was for his prowess on the basketball court, and the attention is well deserved. Most recently, in an interview that touched on his transgender daughter Zaya's journey, Wade opened up about listening to her and, perhaps most importantly, "learning" from her.
Wade, who's raising four children with wife Gabrielle Union, explained in an interview with Robin Roberts on Good Morning America on Tuesday that while he's taking the time to listen and learn from his daughter Zaya, who was born Zion, it took him awhile to understand she identified as female, especially since it meant coming to terms with his own issues. "I knew early on that I had to check myself. That’s what I knew. I knew early on that I had to ask myself questions," he told GMA. "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."
But the reality for Zaya was that she knew she was a girl from the age of 3, according to Wade, and she needed her father to support her. So instead of sticking to antiquated ideas about gender identity, Wade decided to listen to his daughter.
"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 we put our fears on our kids," Wade explained to Roberts. "With Zaya, we decided to listen to her and she's leading us on this journey."
"I’m not going to sit here and act like we have all the answers," Wade went on to say. "I’m not going to sit here and act like before our child sat us down that we weren’t ignorant parents. When I say we’re learning from our 12-year-old, we’re literally learning from our child."
Wade admitted that Zaya was his first real-life interaction with someone who is transgender, and that she has become a leader for her parents. "My daughter was my first interaction when it comes to having to deal with this conversation," Wade said during the same interview. "Hopefully I’m dealing with it the right way. Some people feel that I’m not. But inside our home, we see the smile on her face. We see the confidence that she’s able to walk around and be herself. And that’s when you know you’re doing right."
As a father, Wade is quite proud to follow her and support her fully on this journey, as he told Ellen DeGeneres last week: "Me and my wife Gabrielle Union, we are proud parents of a child in the LGBTQ+ community. And we are proud allies as well. We take our roles and our responsibility as parents very seriously."
"When our child comes home with a question, when our child comes home with an issue, when our child comes home with anything, it's our job as parents to listen to that, to give them the best information that we can, the best feedback that we can," Wade told DeGeneres. "And that doesn't change because sexuality is now involved in it."
Dwyane Wade's honesty about struggling at the outset, his willingness to learn from his child, and his decision to be lead by what she needs, is the sort of advice that can inform all parents, no matter the situation.