Zaya Wade Says “Positives” of Her Inclusive Platform Outweigh “All of the Negativity”
Zaya Wade is thriving, and she wants the world to know it. The model and activist is just 15 years old, but as the daughter of Dwyane Wade and his ex-wife, Siohvaughn Funches, she’s been in the spotlight from the time she was born. However, when she came out as trans at the age of 12, she began receiving a whole new kind of attention. In a March 15 interview with Dazed, Zaya reflected on fashion, beauty, and committing to being herself no matter what, all while sharing some words of wisdom for other members of the LGBTQ+ community.
“There are some highs and some lows,” she said of the scrutiny she’s faced since coming out. “I mean, a lot of attention equals a lot more hate, a lot of transphobia, and [there is] a lot of pressure on me, but I’m also able to reach more people. The positives of having such an inclusive platform completely outweigh all of the negativity online, which my support system has enabled me to filter out. It has allowed me to let in the positivity and distribute it to all of the trans people in the world who need a voice and give them a platform to get inspired to live with themselves without being afraid.”
For Zaya, having a strong support system has been critical to her ability to stay strong in the face of negativity. Her dad and stepmom Gabrielle Union have always vocally supported her, often publicly showing love for her on social media and encouraging other parents to support their transgender children.
“I think it’s not my job, but it’s my honour to continue and further my family’s education and appreciation for the entire LBGTQ+ community as we grow together,” Zaya told Dazed, noting that her close-knit family is always working to learn more and combat misinformation and hate together. Dwyane and Union also share a daughter named Kaavia, who joins Dwyane’s two other children, Zaire and Xavier, from previous relationships. He also has custody of his nephew, Dahveon.
“The positives of having such an inclusive platform completely outweigh all of the negativity online, which my support system has enabled me to filter out.”
Though things have never been easy, it’s a particularly scary moment in America for trans people, as bans on gender-affirming care for trans youth steadily gain traction in dozens of states. Gender-affirming care for trans youth has already been banned in eight states as of March, and efforts to ban gender-affirming care are at work in more than 15 states. Additionally, GOP lawmakers have made moves to criminalize drag shows, among other efforts that threaten the entirety of the LGBTQ+ community.
As Zaya strives to be a voice of positivity for trans kids, it’s also important to her to protect herself from hate – and she wants to use her platform to make sure other trans kids know they deserve to do that as well. “I would say to protect your peace,” she said when asked what advice she had for other trans kids. “I know people have many different circumstances, and I am privileged to have so many people [who] are really in my favour. There are people who don’t [have that], and that’s why I try to give a message of hope to let people know there are others out there who can really just help them protect their peace.”
Zaya also emphasized that she hopes she can use her platform to show other trans kids they’re not alone. “I wish I knew that as a kid because I felt so isolated, thinking there was no one else like me,” she said. “. . . There are thousands of communities waiting [for you], and the trans community is forever growing.”