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

Hear Zaya Wade’s powerful but simple words about being a trans youth in the spotlight

In tandem with Pride Month, the 15-year-old daughter of Dwyane Wade and stepdaughter of Gabrielle Union is leading Logo30, a series that celebrates LGBTQ trailblazers.
/ Source: TODAY

This Pride Month, Zaya Wade is being honored as a trailblazer in her community by the LGBTQ entertainment brand Logo. In its annual Logo30 series profiling entertainers, activists and more, the 15-year-old daughter of Dwyane Wade and stepdaughter of Gabrielle Union is opening up about her experience being a transgender teen living in the spotlight. 

In a preview clip from the Logo30 series shared exclusively with TODAY, Zaya Wade said, “Being my full authentic self feels like freedom. Being out and open and truthful about who I am to myself and others is just freeing. It’s a beautiful feeling to have and hold and to be able to share with the rest of the world.”

In February 2020, Dwyane Wade talked to Ellen DeGeneres about Zaya’s decision to come out as trans at 12 years old.

“Zaya, our 12-year-old, came home … and said, ‘Hey, so I want to talk to you guys. I think going forward, and I’m ready to live my truth,’” Dwyane told DeGeneres. “I want to be referenced as she and her. I’d love for you guys to call me Zaya.’”

Gabrielle Union, Dwayne Wade, Zaya Wade and Kaavia James Union Wade
Gabrielle Union and Dwayne Wade pose with daughters Zaya Wade and Kaavia James Union Wade as they arrive for the "Cheaper by the Dozen" Disney premiere in March.Chris Delmas / AFP - Getty Images

Since then, Zaya and her family have been open about their journey despite criticism aimed at them for their acceptance and understanding of her identity.  

“Transphobia still exists and is widely common,” Zaya told Logo. “There are genuinely people out there who think that you’re a kid, this is a phase, or you don’t actually know what you’re talking about. I know that I’m trans and it’s not like one day I just went, ‘I want to try out being trans.’ No. So just suck it up. We are who we are.” 

Related: Laverne Cox at 50: fabulous and kicking off pride with renewed purpose

The Logo30 series is in its fifth installment this year and is spotlighting other public figures like John Waters, Betty Who and Cassandra Peterson (aka “Elvira”). In a press statement, Terron Moore, vice president and editorial director for MTV News and Logo, called this year's honorees “shining examples of what it means to live a full life.”

“They are living loudly for those of us who need to see it, for those still on the journey to our true selves, and for those we lost before they got their chance,” Moore added.

Zaya Wade for the Logo30 series.
Zaya Wade for the Logo30 series.Logo

As for Zaya, she accepts her platform as a role model to other trans youth who may be struggling with their own journeys. She aims to inspire but also just wants to live her own life outside of the spotlight, too.

“Being trans is one of the most important parts of me, and so to be an inspiration to everyone out there is always my hope,” she said. “But I also hope that I just finish high school, go to college, get my degree and also live a life outside of ‘Zaya Wade the trans person’ and be Zaya. Just Zaya.”

To celebrate LGBTQ pride, TODAY is sharing this community’s history, pain, joy and what’s next for the movement. We will be publishing personal essays, stories, videos and special features throughout the entire month of June.