(CNSNews.com) – NBA basketball star Dwayne Wade told ABC’s “Good Morning America” on Tuesday that his 12-year-old son Zion, who considers himself a transgender girl and now goes by Zaya, has known since three years old that he was trans.
When asked how he handles people who are less than supportive, the former Miami Heat basketball player said, “Well, our family, we love, right. We're imperfect, but we love each other for who we are and whatever we're going to become in life and understand we have to protect each other. We get amazing support from people.
“We get a lot of hate from people, but along the way we inside together as a family, we have to have each other's back and for us, it was important that Zaya understood her family has her back and just from the world and what people will say and think, but she's known that for nine years since she's 3 years,” he said.
“Since she was 3 she's known?” GMA’s Robin Roberts asked.
“Yes, and we've asked questions, and we've learned,” Wade said.
“Did you know? Did you know early on?” Roberts asked.
Wade said he’s never had a gay or trans friend come out to him when he was growing up and that “Zaya” was his first interaction with someone he knows being transgender. He said in the past he’s said the wrong words and phrases about transgender people when having conversations about the topic in the locker room.
“I knew early on that I had to check myself. That's what I knew. I knew early on I had to ask myself questions, right? I've been a person in the locker room that has been a part of the conversation that has said the wrong phrases and the wrong words myself. And as I got older and as I watched my daughter grow, I had to go and look at myself in the mirror and say, who are you?” the NBA star said.
“And what are you going to do if your child come home and say, dad, I'm not -- I'm not a boy. Or that I'm a gay boy or that I'm a trans girl, what are you going to do? And for me that was my moment of -- that was a moment of real, you know, it's like this is not something that I grew up knowing that I played with a teammate or having a friend that came out to me as gay, as trans, as anything,” he said.
“My daughter was my first interaction when it comes to having to deal with, you know, this conversation, and hopefully, I'm dealing with it the right way. Some people think I'm not but inside our home we see the smile on our daughter's face. You see the confidence that she's able to walk around and be herself and that's when you know she's doing right,” Wade added.
He said that Zion, now Zaya, sat the family down and told them that he considers himself to be “a straight trans.”
“Well, she's our leader, and I think when her -- the conversation we had, the one thing about it, with parents is have conversations with your kids. You know, Zaya early on knew two things, she knew straight and she knew gay, but Zaya started doing more research,” Wade said.
“She was the one who sat down with us as a family and said, ‘hey, I don't think I'm gay,’ and she went down the list and said, you know, this is how I identify myself. This is my gender identity. Alright, I identify myself as a young lady. I think I'm a straight trans, because I still like -- I like boys so it was just -- 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,” he said.
Wade touches on the transgender issue in his documentary, "D. Wade: Life Unexpected.” He said he struggled with whether to include that aspect of his family in the documentary.
“Well I struggled on how much I wanted to talk about in the doc. I actually didn't talk about it a lot, but I knew if I put it in the doc at all it would be a big conversation. and we struggled with that from, yes we understand our daughter is 12 years old,” he said.
“We struggled with what will people say about a 12-year-old making a decision about her life, but we also know our child, and so we sit back and we say, you know what, as parents it's our job to sit back and figure out and find the information that, you know, we can, and we sat down together as a family and reached out to as many people as we can,” the NBA star said.
“We’ve 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 because one thing we do know as a family, you know, we've been through so many different things that other people in other families go through and they say, thank you guys for speaking out on it. Thank you guys for being the face and the voice of this, because we can't. And that's what we're trying to do. We know there's other families out there dealing with their kid finding themselves and learning who they are,” Wade said.
Wade advised other parents who are struggling with accepting their child to do their research and ask people questions, “because this conversation is real.”
“Our 12-year-old deals with this -- this is her life every day. This is no game. We're about protecting her heart. We’re protecting her joy and to do that, we have to support them,” he said.