In the United States, where transphobia is prevalent, where hate crimes have increased significantly since the 2016 election, where 80% of trans murders are against people of colour, the message of a beloved figure like Dwyane is strong.
Dwyane Tyrone Wade Jr. is a former NBA basketball player. During his 16-year career, he played mainly with the Miami Heat, which he took to the NBA finals four times, in addition to winning Olympic gold medals. He was awarded the title of All-Star player thirteen times. He is also known for his philanthropic activities, and for being very religious – indeed, he chose the jersey number 3 for the Holy Trinity.
A figure of the American panorama as only they know how to do it: an admirable athlete, very religious, defender of the black community, education, and culture. He seems to be checking all the boxes to be an icon of conservative American society, which clings as tightly as it can to a stereotypical image of masculinity.
However, that’s not the whole story. Dwyane’s daughter, Zaya Wade, was born Zion. Recently, the basketball player explained to Good Morning America that Zaya has known she was a girl since she was 3 years old. Dwyane Wade took a stand to support her while letting her guide him and their family through this experience. Being a public figure, his unconditional acceptance of his daughter – whom he accompanied to her official red carpet debut at a major black LGBTQ+ community event – is the kind of speech that is likely to help change mentalities.
By his own admission, in the circles in which he found himself, Dwyane participated in homophobic and transphobic conversations, particularly in sports changing rooms. “[I myself] was part of the conversation using the wrong phrases and words,” he admits. In the United States, where transphobia is prevalent, where hate crimes have increased significantly since the 2016 election, where 80% of trans murders are against people of colour, the message of a beloved figure like Dwyane is strong. He says what should already be given, but unfortunately is not yet often enough: “We want to inform ourselves as much as possible so that we can give our daughter the opportunity to be the best version of herself,” he tells Ellen Degeneres, in front of thousands of viewers.
On the one hand, it’s easy to imagine that the audience for someone like Dwyane Wade consists mainly of people who hold on to traditional values. We hope, on the other hand, that they will hear the message of love that all members of the LGBTQ+ community deserve.