Dwyane Wade, Gabrielle Union Plea for LGBTQ Rights at NAACP Image Awards: 'Will We Fight for All?'

"So baby, thank you for showing the world what courage looks like," Dwyane Wade told 15-year-old daughter Zaya while accepting the President's Award with wife Gabrielle Union

PASADENA, CALIFORNIA - FEBRUARY 25: (L-R) Gabrielle Union and Dwyane Wade accept the President's Award onstage during the 54th NAACP Image Awards at Pasadena Civic Auditorium on February 25, 2023 in Pasadena, California. (Photo by Amy Sussman/Getty Images)
Photo: Amy Sussman/Getty

Dwyane Wade and Gabrielle Union are continuing to champion the fight for LGBTQ rights.

As the couple accepted the President's Award at Saturday's NAACP Image Awards in Pasadena, Calif., they acknowledged that the intersection of rights for Black and LGBTQ people "continues to be rough" one day after daughter Zaya Wade's legal name change and gender assignment.

"Zaya, as your father, all I've wanted to do is get it right. I've sat back and watched how gracefully you've taken on the public scrutiny," Wade, 41, said. "And even though it's not easy, I watched you walk out of that house every morning as yourself. I admire how you've handled ignorance in our world. I admire it that you face every day. To say that your village is proud of you is an understatement."

He continued: "As your father, my job isn't to create a version of myself or direct your future. My role is to be a facilitator to your hopes, your wishes, your dreams.

"Zaya, you've made me a better human by just simply being who you were born to be, our baby girl Zaya Wade. So baby, thank you for showing the world what courage looks like. I'm proud that I was chosen to stand in place as your father. And thank you so much to the NAACP for this incredible honor," added Wade.

Zaya Wade, Kaavia James Union Wade, Gabrielle Union, and Dwyane Wade attend the Premiere of Disney's "Cheaper By The Dozen" on March 16, 2022 in Los Angeles, California

After announcing their daughter is transgender and identifies as female in 2020, the 15-year-old's name was legally changed to Zaya Malachi Airamis Wade on Friday in Los Angeles Superior Court, where the judge also granted her a legal transition.

Union, 50, praised the NAACP for persevering "over a century of relentless challenge, pain, triumph and change," as well as standing "with us again at the foot of a very new era of activism, a new era that demands our collective answer to one simple question. 'Will we fight for some, or will we fight for all of our people?'"

The Truth Be Told star urged those watching to "extend our advocacy to protect some of our most vulnerable among us," adding: "Black trans people are being targeted, terrorized and hunted in this country, everyday, everywhere, and there is rarely a whisper about it."

"We honestly don't approach this work as activists or leaders as much as we do this as parents," she continued. "Parents who love our children, and will do whatever the hell we can to keep them seen and secure and safe."

Zaya Wade
Zaya Wade. Arnold Jerocki/Getty

"This is a conversation worth having in ways that can actually build bridges. That don't fan the flames of hatred or division. That don't enable lawmakers or justice systems to look the other way when Black trans people are under attack. That don't drive more young people to hate themselves or harm themselves. That don't cost people their lives," added Union.

"So we are humbled and we are hopeful for the future. And we are hopeful that we may witness a real shift in the fight for justice the moment the movement makes room for everyone — everyone. Thank you," she concluded.

Union and Wade have continued to publicly show their support for Zaya — whom Wade shares with ex-wife Siohvaughn Funches — as many lawmakers fuel transphobic rhetoric.

RELATED VIDEO: Gabrielle Union on the Challenge of Playing a Homophobic Character as the Parent of a Trans Daughter

Earlier this month, HRC reported that 340 anti-LGBTQ bills have already been introduced in state legislatures across the country in 2023, with a record 150 targeting trans people.

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Tennessee has become the most recent battleground, with bills heading to Gov. Bill Lee's desk that will ban drag shows and restrict gender-affirming care for trans minors. Many states have introduced similar pieces of legislation.

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