Over the past couple years, we’ve published several pieces lauding former NBA All Star Dwyane Wade as an exemplary father who embraces and celebrates his transgender daughter Zaya for who she is.
Now Wade is promising that he will continue to have her back during what could become a very tumultuous time.
Last week, Wade’s ex-wife Siohvaughn Funches-Wade filed an objection in a Los Angeles court seeking to block him from officially changing Zaya’s birth name and gender. When the two finalized their divorce in 2007, Wade was awarded sole custody of their children.
Because Zaya is only 15, her father was a part of filing the petition to change her name and gender back in August. In the text of the application, they made sure to note that “Pursuant to the terms of the Final Custody Judgment, [Dwyane Wade] has full authority to make decisions on behalf of the petitioning minor, and he is not required to receive consent from Ms. Funches-Wade.”
Now with Funches-Wade’s objection entering the picture, that filing is on hold until a court hears the case in December. She is asking that the family wait until Zaya reaches “the age of majority” before applying to make these changes.
In her objection, Funches-Wade accuses Wade of exploiting his and Zaya’s status as public figures to profit off of Zaya changing her name and gender. She asserts Wade told her “he intended to make our child very famous due to the name and gender issue and also informed me that there would be endorsements/contracts associated therewith.”
It goes without saying this is a serious charge. There are many parents who support their transgender children because they love them and want to ensure they live healthy and happy lives. Funches-Wade is accusing Dwyane Wade of doing so in order to get an endorsement deal.
As Zaya navigates life as an out transgender teen, having to live her life while dealing this kind of allegation from one of her parents could cause serious harm and stress.
Dwyane Wade found out about Funches-Wade’s objection via social media and posted a response on his Instagram: “While none of us are surprised by Siohvaughn’s attempt to fight Zaya’s identity and her unwavering attempt to drag my name through the mud, I’m very disappointed that she continuously finds ways of centering herself and HER needs, without regard to her children.”
Wade’s implication is clear: he’s asserting this is not the first time Funches-Wade has attempted to repress Zaya’s identity as a transgender girl.
“Zaya is not that same three year old child anymore and she’s screaming that to the world but most importantly to her mother!,” Wade writes, “No one in our house would ever force Zaya or any of our children to do anything against their will, much less force an identity on them. This isn’t a game for my family and definitely not for Zaya. This is her life!”
That sentiment is very much in keeping with Wade’s pattern as a father whose number one concern is for his daughter to live the most fulfilling life possible.
Unfortunately, Zaya’s life is about to get more complicated. While Funches-Wade is contesting Zaya’s name and gender changes based on the premise that her daughter might be exploited as a public figure, she seems not to understand or is indifferent to this reality: the very act of her filing a legal objection is forcing Zaya’s name into the news in a profoundly hurtful way.
If Zaya’s wellbeing really is Funches-Wade’s top concern, she needs to realize the gravity of what she’s set in motion and do something about it.
Short of Funches-Wade dropping her objection, the best outcome would be for a quick legal proceeding that honors Zaya’s wishes to live as her true self. Let’s hope that turns out to be the case and Zaya and her family can move past this episode as quickly as possible.