As many of us have observed online, public figures face trolling, bullying and major abuse when controversial events occur in their lives. What happens when we consider the presence and well-being of a child as part of the circumstances? Evidently, it makes no difference.
In April 2019, the child of famous NBA player, Dwyane Wade, and actress, Gabrielle Wade-Union, came out as a member of the LGBTQ+ community. The family proudly posted a picture of them all together, in which their child was seen sporting a crop top and acrylic nails. This immediately sparked attention and criticism from fans and other celebrities online.
Back in July, Dwyane Wade spoke out against the judgement of his daughter attending Miami Beach Pride. "It’s my job to be their role model, to be their voice in my kids’ lives, to let them know you can conquer the world. So, go and be your amazing self and we’re going to sit back and just love you,” he said.
More news broke this past month when Dwyane Wade was seen on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" discussing his 12-year-old child coming home and telling him she would begin to use female pronouns. His daughter, who had previously been known as the boy Zion Wade, asked them to call her Zaya Wade, as she was prepared to “live (her) truth.”
Quickly, after news broke about Zaya Wade’s transition, people flanked to support or admonish the parents for their acceptance of the child’s decision. Young Thug got blasted online for his tweet, “'GOD DON’T MAKE MISTAKES' but hey live your true self," which purposely misgendered the 12 year old and aimed judgement at Dwyane Wade for his approval. The tweet has since been deleted due to outraged fans claiming they will no longer support the rapper since he disclosed his transphobic outlook.
Boosie Badazz, 37-year-old rapper, also went on an Instagram tirade which berated the parents for their decision to support their child’s decision and faced a similar blast from a furious social media mob.
Other celebrities, such as Cardi B, have outwardly defended the parents and child for their decision to come forward and announce her transgender identity. The female rapper took to her Instagram Live to urge people to “try to understand,” continuing, “let people find their happiness, especially kids.”
Evidently, there are always pros and cons to being a celebrity in the limelight. Now, the Wade-Union family has this platform to be advocates and allies to the LGBTQ+ community, which they have swiftly adopted with pride. They’ve faced abuse and hardship along the way. What we need to remember is that children and parents are facing this exact issue all around the world.
The important thing for parents is to get educated. The NBA star said, in "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" interview, “Now it's our job to one, go out and get information, to reach out to every relationship that we have. We're just trying to figure as much information as we can to make sure that we give our child the best opportunity to be her best self.”
Stigmatizing and marginalizing trans people is a matter of life and death. Transgender youth, who are rejected by their family and friends, are 13 times more likely to commit suicide, according to The Huffington Post. "Multiple studies have found that transgender people of color are at higher risk of suicide than white transgender people,” according to the article.
So what happens to the people who are not the product of an affluent celebrity couple who are unconditionally supportive? The isolation and dismissal that trans people endure on an everyday basis is detrimental to their existence as human beings yearning to be understood and accepted by a discriminatory society which thrives on conformity and compliance.
Ultimately, while we are making strides in issues regarding sexuality, transgender people continue to be misunderstood. We, as a society, need to advance this conversation in order to normalize gender as a social construct which we have perpetuated using stigma and stereotype.
I applaud parents like Dwyane Wade and Gabrielle Wade-Union for their decision to outwardly reveal this intimate aspect of their family dynamic and shed light on the importance of unconditional love and acceptance. The fact is: Transgender folks are people. Celebrities are people. We need to remember this when slandering their candid and vulnerable identities from behind the curtain of a computer screen.