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Dwyane Wade responds to ex-wife's objection to daughter Zaya's name change: 'This isn’t a game'

Early Thursday morning, Wade acknowledged the legal situation with his ex-wife publicly for the first time, releasing a statement on Instagram.
/ Source: TODAY

Former NBA player Dwyane Wade is speaking out after his ex-wife Siohvaughn Funches-Wade alleged in a court filing that he's trying to make money off their transgender daughter Zaya’s “name and gender change.”

On Tuesday, Nov. 1, Funches-Wade submitted an objection to a Los Angeles County court requesting Zaya Wade wait until “the age of majority” to make permanent changes to her identity, documents obtained by TODAY revealed.

On Nov. 2, TODAY reached out to Funches-Wade’s legal team and Dwyane Wade’s rep for additional comment but did not immediately hear back.

Now, Wade is acknowledging the legal situation publicly for the first time, releasing a statement on Instagram early Thursday, Nov. 3.

"Since this must be the new way of parenting, I guess I have to address these allegations here, which is a damn shame," Wade said in the statement shared on his Instagram. "While I’m on a life-changing trip in our motherland, Africa, I’ve received a social media post about me forcing our 15 year old child to be someone she’s not and to do something against her will. These are serious and harmful allegations that have hurt our children."

Funches-Wade and Wade were married from 2002 to 2010 and share 20-year-old son Zaire Wade, as well. Wade is also a father to 8-year-old son Xavier, with former partner Aja Metoyer, and 3-year-old daughter Kaavia, whom he shares with his current wife Gabrielle Union. 

"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 find ways of centering herself and HER needs, without regard to her children," he added. "This report came out while Zaya was in class. This is a kid who has maintained a 4.0 GPA in honors classes while navigating all this unsolicited and harmful attention and debates about her gender and sexuality from those who are committed to not listening to her, much less even knowing her."

Zaya Wade came out as transgender in 2020, and her father has been publicly supportive of his daughter since then. In June 2022, he told TODAY about the important lesson he has learned as a father: allowing his children to see their “real selves.” 

“I think we have to continue to grow as parents and understand that our kids’ lives are not just about us,” he said. “We didn’t have them to be a mini version of us. They’re going to become who they are in this world, and it’s our job to find that out.”

In the court documents filed on Tuesday, Nov. 1, Funches-Wade said, “I contend that our child should be given the opportunity to decide for themselves at the age of majority if they want to move forward with changing their name and/or gender.”

She also argued that the matter is a “parental rights issue” and that her ex-husband is using his status as a former basketball star to make a profit off of Zaya Wade’s brand partnerships.

"Siohvaughn tried a similar attempt over a decade ago (with equally damaging lies and causing irreparable harm to her children) and 13 lawyers later, I was awarded sole custody of our two kids as an active NBA player," Wade continued in his statement. "All I ever wanted was to have my parenting time uninterrupted, as I knew that it would be a very difficult time for our kids to navigate their new normal."

He added of Funches-Wade: "So Instead of actually trying to co-parent over the years, she’s left her home to see more lawyers and has taken the time to talk to more lawyers since I filed for divorce, than she’s left her home to actually see or have truly spoken and LISTENED to Zaya over all these years."

Zaya Wade, Kaavia James Union Wade, Gabrielle Union, and Dwyane 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.Matt Winkelmeyer / Getty Images

Wade’s ex-wife also said in the court docs that outside factors could influence Zaya Wade’s decision to change her name and gender.  Funches-Wade said in the filing, “This matter has been highly reported in the media and there will likely be media pressure on the minor child."

"I've given her the opportunity to reach out to Zaya’s teachers, doctors and therapist over the years and even meet her friends, so she could get her own understanding of our child’s needs for her LIFE," Wade also said in his statement. "She won’t do it! She has not been to a school, recital, graduation, school dance, play date, practice, parent teacher conference etc and Zaya has given her every opportunity to try to get to know her. She won’t do it."

He later continued: "Zaya is not that same 3 year child anymore and she’s screaming that to the world but most importantly to her Mother! 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."

The hearing to resolve the case will be held on Dec. 12.