Watch: NBA Star Dwyane Wade Explains What He Learned from "Pose" Ensemble

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Wednesday February 19, 2020

Retired NBA star Dwyane Wade continued his rounds of talk shows with a stop on "Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen," where he took a caller's question about how he and his wife, Gabrielle Union, approached the cast of TV's FX drama "Pose" to hear what they might have to tell him about trans issues.

As previously reported at EDGE, Wade appeared on "Ellen" earlier this month to tell the openly lesbian host and comedian Ellen DeGeneres about the leadership he says his trans daughter, Zaya, exhibited in coming out, and how he and his wife, Gabrielle Union, are proud parents - and unshakeable allies.

"First of all..." Wade told Ellen, "we are proud... we are proud parents of a child in the LGBTQ+ community. And we're proud allies, as well. We take our role and our responsibilities as parents very seriously."

Wade explained that means, in part, being willing to offer their child "the best information that we can" when she faces any issue or has any questions.

Wade then recounted how one day his daughter, Zaya - previously known as Zion - "Came home and said, 'Hey, I want to talk to you guys. I think going forward I'm ready to live my truth.' "

That truth: Wade and Union's child was not a son; she was a daughter.

At that point, Wade said, "now it was our job to... get information, to reach out to every relationship that we have" in order to get "as much information as we can to make sure that we give our child the best opportunity to be her best self."

It was that quest to educate themselves that Zaya's proud, supportive parents to reach out to the cast of "Pose" - which has the largest ensemble of trans actors, as well as trans writers, directors, and crew, of any television show in history.

Answering the caller's question, Wade said: "First of all, we got information. We didn't have a lot of information, and we reached out about pronouns."

Wade went on to say, "We wanted to make sure we didn't get it wrong. so we reached out about the pronouns and making sure we said the right things to our daughter."

"Because your child came to you and said, 'I am identifying as something other than I was born," interjected openly gay host Andy Cohen.

Trans people maintain that they are born trans, whereas anti-LGBTQ politicians - such as those in several states that have recently proposed legislation that would criminalize medically appropriate care for trans children - seem to believe that trans people either "choose" to identify as a gender other than their external genitalia would indicate, or cling to the idea that so-called "gender dysphoria" (the sense that a person's innate gender is other than one's physiology) is only a "phase" that children will grow out of.

But trans people - arguably the only ones qualified to comment on their own lived experience - often say that they knew from extremely early ages what their innate gender identity is, and that identity does not magically shift at some point.

Informed parents who choose to be supportive are often advised to allow the child to take the lead when it comes to the child's own sense of their gender. Wade and Union embraced that philosophy from the start.

"I looked at her and said, 'You're our leader. You're our leader, and it's our opportunity to allow you to be a voice,' " Wade told Ellen during his appearance on her show. "Right now it's through us because she's twelve years old, but eventually, it will be through her."

Not long after that appearance, though, it was indeed Zaya who was speaking for herself. The 12-year-old appeared in a video that Wade made and that Union posted on social media on Feb. 11.

"Be true to yourself," Zaya says in the video. "What's the point of being on this earth if you're going to try to be someone you're not?"

"Meet Zaya," Union posted in a text that accompanied the video. "She's compassionate, loving, whip-smart and we are so proud of her."

Added Union: "It's Ok to listen to, love & respect your children exactly as they are. Love and light good people."

About an hour later, Union followed up with another tweet, offering thanks to those who had "who provided information, resources, love & encouragement."

Watch the clip from "Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen" below.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.