Former NBA star Dwyane Wade is under attack by his ex-wife, Siohvaughn Funches-Wade, who has accused him of exploiting their trans daughter Zaya’s gender identity for profit.
Back in August, he petitioned the Los Angeles Superior Court to legally change her name to Zaya Malachi Airamis Wade from her deadname. He also requested that Zaya be recognized as female in all legal documents, asserting he had “full authority” to file the petition without the consent of Zaya’s mother, despite giving her notice of the request “as a courtesy”.
This week, she stated the following in court documents: “I have concerns that [Wade] may be pressuring our child to move forward with the name and gender change in order to capitalize on the financial opportunities that he has received from companies.”
After her objection, Dwyane took to social media to clarify a few things in what I can firmly assert as the read of the year. In an Instagram post, he responded to his ex-wife’s concerns:
“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!”
I’m so glad he pointed out that he was awarded sole custody while he was in the NBA. We know how much basketball players travel – and the fact that the court still acknowledged that he was a more suitable parent and granted him full custody of both children, despite having a career that sees him on the road as often as basketball calls for is telling.
His statement continued on, dragging Siohvaughn for leaving her home more times to meet and speak with lawyers than she’s ever left the house to see the kids. He outlined his invitations to chat with Zaya’s teachers, doctors, therapists and friends, slamming her for never having attended a recital, graduation, play date, or practice.
“As a woman who claims to be a good Christian mother, I’ve yet to see her make any sacrifice or effort to leave her own home to participate in our children’s lives in over a decade…As men, we get a bad rep for not showing up…I’m ten toes down and I’m still going thru the BS! I will not sit on my hands this time and allow her to make a mockery of my dedication to my family. The high road has run out of real estate.”
As I said, the read of the year.
There’s been a lot of focus on the he said/she said aspect of it all. But as a trained journalist, I can’t help but try to see the bigger picture – which is how the media plays right into the hand of people who make baseless claims like Siohvaughn’s.
We saw the fiasco that was the 2016 election, and how Trump’s claims over the years got so much media attention that it became an incredibly difficult task to keep track of what was true and what wasn’t. It’s a wonder how Canadian fact-checker Daniel Dale got any sleep during his campaign and his presidency trying to get to the bottom of all of the claims made on his road to the White House, and even during his time in it.
But not everyone cared to exercise discernment, or even let Dale do the work for them. For the millions of Americans whose views Trump’s aligned with, it was easier not to. So it’s not a stretch to say he won the election on the backs of people who didn’t have the time, energy, discipline, interest or concern to sit and sift through literal fake news.
Look at the amount of stories each day published about Kanye West. Reiterating his antisemitic comments has fuelled further antisemitism. Shortly after his obscene remarks, a hate group did flyer drops and hung a banner supporting and amplifying his messaging. We saw something similar with Andrew Tate, a misogynist who was banned from most of the major social media networks for his anti-women remarks, which claimed women were in part to blame for being sexually assaulted. His hateful videos garnered billions of views and he even had an online course for aspiring “alpha males”.
There is such an evident connection between the media’s amplification of baseless claims and everything from who gets voted into office and the further mistreatment of already marginalized groups of people.
As a Black trans girl, Zaya constantly faces the threat of anti-Black racism, gender-based violence and misogyny, and transphobia – something she’s been subjected to by her own mother who continues to use her deadname, despite her daughter’s wishes to be referred to as Zaya. Meanwhile, Dwyane and Gabrielle Union have done an amazing job of supporting Zaya through the very public and very difficult journey to coming out as trans.
And according to Dwyane, this isn’t new. “She’s known since she was 3 years old,” he said back in 2020 during a Good Morning America appearance. “Along this way, we’ve asked questions and we’ve learned. But she’s known.”
I’ve written before about the difficulty Black members of the LGBTQ+ community face in everything from coming out to seeing people who look like them being acknowledged and celebrated for their sexuality in mainstream media. So the fact that there is an entire Black family, with a former NBA player father who openly accepts his trans daughter and protects her at all costs, even against her own mother, is something we all really need to acknowledge and celebrate.
Lastly, as for Siohvaughn’s claims that this is about financial gain – I’d like to remind her that her Dwyane and Gabrielle Union share a combined net worth of over $200 million. Two years ago, they dropped $20 million on a mansion. Whatever money Disney is offering Zaya in this rumoured deal Siovaughn keeps referring to is pocket change.
I cannot commend Dwyane and Gabrielle enough for being the parents so many LGBTQ+ children, youth, teens and adults need. They’ve modelled love in its truest form – which at its core is about unconditionality and acceptance. If she’d stop trying to attack them for being what she never was and will never be, perhaps Siohvaughn could learn a thing or two about what it means to be a good parent.