IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Gabrielle Union talks the importance of loving out loud when parenting a trans teen

Zaya Wade publicly came out as transgender in 2020 and is Union’s daughter by her marriage to former professional basketball player Dwyane Wade.
/ Source: TODAY

Gabrielle Union has once again championed her daughter, Zaya Wade, and transgender rights more broadly.

The "Cheaper By The Dozen" actor told BuzzFeed on Wednesday, March 23 that affectionately loving Zaya boldly and publicly has always been the gold standard of parenting to which parents aspire, including herself and husband Dwyane Wade, 40.

Premiere Of Disney's "Cheaper By The Dozen"
Zaya Wade is one of the LGBTQ community's strongest examples of what is possible with supportive parents, Gabrielle Union and Dwyane Wade.Frazer Harrison / WireImage

Zaya Wade publicly came out as transgender in 2020 and is Union’s daughter by marriage, along with brothers Zaire and Xavier. Union shares daughter Kaavia James Union Wade with her husband.

Since 2020, Zaya's parents have become known for their fierce advocacy regarding LGBTQ rights and clapping back at naysayers who question Zaya's decision and their parenting.

The 49-year-old actor said continuing to love Zaya during every phase of her life did not present a fork in the road as it does for some parents who decide to disown their children because of their identity.

Union said at first she didn't understand why loving Zaya was a big deal — she was just doing what she had always done — but now she sees it as one of many needed examples regarding how parents and allies can be supportive.

“It’s important for us to live and love out loud," she told BuzzFeed. "We didn’t exactly understand why (supporting Zaya’s trans identity) was a thing because it’s like, we love all our kids out loud. But it is a thing and a lot of people do need an example. (People) do need that (kind of) representation."

Union's comments come as legislation seeking to ban transgender health care is rippling across the country in numerous states.

Union's encouragement to anyone feeling under attack or dismayed by these restrictive laws is, "there are people just like you that want you to win in life. And by win, I mean to survive and thrive. And we will find a way."

Part of finding a way is via parental support. Union said she stays in her lane as the parent while providing guideposts along the path her kids are exploring for themselves.

“As our children show up, it is our job to believe them when they tell us who they are and not impose our dreams, hopes, fears, and desires on them,” she said. "It’s our job to be loving, compassionate, protective guides for our children, but their lives are their lives and we have to respect that ... We do not believe in any kind of shaming for existing. That is bizarre, cruel, (and) harmful."

One way to reduce the harm is to "love out loud," the "Bring It On" star said.

“So yeah, we’re gonna post our family, we’re going to live out loud, we’re going to love out loud, and we’re going to speak out loud and lead in however each situation calls for us to be leaders when things are not where they should be," she said.