Dwyane Wade Advocates for Trans Community and Daughter Zaya amid Anti-LGBT Legislation: 'Focus on Acceptance'

The retired NBA star — whose daughter Zaya came out as transgender in 2020 — was asked if he had a message for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis during an interview on Monday

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The only side Dwyane Wade is taking is "the side of acceptance," he said at the Met Gala on Monday night.

Wade, 41, took a moment to advocate for the transgender community when Variety asked the NBA star for a message to Ron DeSantis amid the Florida governor's anti-LGBTQ+ legislation.

"I don't know him," Wade began, adding, "But I do know men lie, women lie, but numbers don't."

The three-time NBA champion — whose 15-year-old daughter Zaya came out as transgender in 2020 — explained the importance of acceptance in children's lives, and specifically in the homes of transgender youth.

Wade said that when children "feel accepted from their parents and the world," the death rate is lowered among children.

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The suicide rate in the trans community and broader youth "is high," Wade told the outlet. "So, I'm going to step on the side of acceptance and I'm not going to even go on the other side," he added.

"I'm going to focus on acceptance," Wade continued. "Let's make sure our kids have an opportunity to live this life that we all get to live."

DeSantis has been one of the harshest politicians when it comes to limiting transgender rights, pushing a ban on gender-affirming care for minors and Medicaid recipients, as well as signing a bill into law that bans trans women and girls from playing on sports teams that match their gender identity.

On a recent episode of Headliners with Rachel Nichols, Wade spoke about the Florida politicians who count themselves among his fans but are vocal proponents of LGBTQ policies that negatively impact families like the Wades.

"That's another reason why I don't live in that state," Wade said in the clip.

Dwyane Wade, Zaya Wade, and Gabrielle Union arrive at Gucci Love Parade
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"A lot of people don't know that. I have to make decisions for my family, not just personal, individual decisions," the former NBA star continued. "I mean, obviously, the tax [situation] is great. Having Wade County is great. But my family would not be accepted or feel comfortable there. And so that's one of the reasons why I don't live there."

At only 15, Zaya has already become a leading voice for transgender youth.

Since coming out publicly at age 12, she's been inspiring teens to live their truth by confidently and self-assuredly being her true self, despite the criticism that she and her family face. Zaya has also become a fashion influencer and, as of March 2023, a runway model.

"She's the strong one in this family. She's a hero," Dwyane said in June 2021. "It's our family's job to make sure that we listen to her. We listen to the doctors. We ask questions and we formulate our own ideas of how Zaya should be and should be raised in this world and we don't allow others to do that for us."

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Dwyane and Union have been vocal in their support of their daughter, using their platform to have important public conversations about transgender youth.

"We've been through so many different things that other people and other families go through and they say, 'Thank you for speaking out on it. Thank you for being the face and the voice of it because we can't,' " Dwyane said on Good Morning America. "And that's what we're trying to do. We know there's other families out there that's dealing with their kid, finding themselves and learning who they are."

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