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Zaya Wade Gushes Over Her ‘Giant Support System’ in 1st Magazine Cover, Reveals Most Inspiring Lesson From Stepmom Gabrielle Union

Zaya Wade Reveals Stepmom Gabrielle Union's Best Advice in 1st Cover Story
Zaya Wade and Gabrielle Union John Salangsang/Shutterstock; NINA PROMMER/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

Her biggest fans! Dwyane Wade‘s daughter Zaya Wade opened up about her “giant support system” and proud family while making her magazine cover debut.

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The 15-year-old posed for the spring 2023 issue of DAZED magazine, speaking candidly about her journey of self-acceptance. When asked when she feels her most empowered, the teenager replied, “When my family surrounds me.”

Zaya, who publicly came out as transgender in 2020, added of her loved ones: “They are such a giant support system and have always been there for me. No matter what happens, I feel strongest when I’m with them.”

The retired NBA pro, 41, shares Zaya and son Zaire, 21, with ex-wife Siohvaughn Funches. The former couple were married from 2002 to 2010. Following a messy legal battle regarding Zaya’s petition to change her name — which Funches opposed — the aspiring model was officially granted her name change and assignment of gender by a Los Angeles court in February.

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Zaya reflected on the milestone while speaking to DAZED, noting, “So many big changes have happened over the last couple of years with me, but also just in general. I think it’s not my job, but it’s my honor to continue and further my family’s education and appreciation for the entire LBGTQ+ community as we grow together. As our understanding of acceptance has broadened over the past couple of years, we have made the strides to keep ourselves educated and combat the ignorance.”

Following his split from Funches, the former Miami Heat athlete exchanged vows with Gabrielle Union in 2014. The dynamic duo welcomed their first child together, daughter Kaavia, in 2018. (Dwyane also shares son Xavier, 9, with Aja Metoyer.)

The Bring It On actress, 50, has seamlessly taken to raising her and Dwyane’s blended family — and has taught Zaya some important life lessons about self-love.

“The lesson has changed over time, but more recently it’s that beauty is in yourself,” Zaya told the magazine. “It’s about being you and expressing yourself the way you want to. She tries to teach me that beauty standards are arbitrary and that they don’t mean anything. They don’t matter any more; what people thought was the standard is not. And just that being myself is the best technique out there.”

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Last month, Union and her husband were honored with the President’s Award at the 54th NAACP Image Awards for their LGBTQ+ advocacy. The couple delivered a powerful tribute to Zaya while accepting their award. “Zaya, as your father, all I’ve wanted to do was get it right,” her father said on stage. “I’ve sat back and watched how gracefully you have taken on the public scrutiny. And even though it’s not easy, I watched you walk out of the house every morning as yourself. I admire how you handle the ignorance in our world … that you face every day. To say that your village is proud of you is an understatement.”

While reflecting on her public coming out story, Zaya confessed to DAZED that she’s experienced “highs and lows” along the way. “I mean, a lot of attention equals a lot more hate, a lot of transphobia, and [there is] a lot of pressure on me, but I’m also able to reach more people,” she said of her journey. “The positives of having such an inclusive platform completely outweigh all of the negativity online, which my support system has enabled me to filter out. It has allowed me to let in the positivity and distribute it to all of the trans people in the world who need a voice and give them a platform to get inspired to live with themselves without being afraid.”

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