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Zaya Wade is Living Her Best Life, and Taking Us Along for the Journey

Being the child of two verified superstars isn’t easy—it guarantees you a lifetime in the spotlight, especially when the superstars in question happen to be the “Being Mary Jane” actress Gabrielle Union and former Miami Heat Point Guard Dwyane Wade. Sometimes, that spotlight can be kind, and sometimes, it can be disastrously cruel. 

For 15-year-old Zaya Wade, it’s been a bit of both. When Wade came out as trans in 2020, it seemed like everyone had something to say about it. Thankfully, Wade’s family never wavered a second in extending their daughter the advocacy and support she needed. But that doesn’t mean coming out as the product of an uber-famous family was at all easy. In fact, Zaya’s gender became a topic of discussion long before she publicly came out.

In 2017, a family photo circulated online showing the then 10-year-old Zaya celebrating her birthday party. Online commenters had a lot to say, much of it horribly transphobic. In later years, Wade would state that she felt “outed” by the photo. It wouldn’t be until three years later, however, in 2020, that Wade would publicly introduce herself to the world as the glowing, groundbreaking trans teen she is. 

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Zaya Wade (@zayawade)

But even after coming out publicly—having come out a few times privately to her family—things were far from smooth sailing for Wade. Even after the onslaught of hateful, ignorant comments ceased, thanks to Wade’s family’s advocacy, people online still had a lot to say about the “right” way to present as trans. 

“As a trans person, once I came out, there was a lot of hateful comments about how I should grow my hair out long or fit into a certain version of femininity, even though that’s not true at all,” Wade told People Magazine during a joint interview with herself and her mother Gabrielle Union-Wade this May. “That kind of advice is just trying to break you, but don’t let it.” 

So far, Wade hasn’t let it dim her shine in the slightest. That’s not to say it hasn’t been a heavy lift for the 15-year-old, who’s had to use her platform to educate and enlighten followers since she was just 13 years old. This year, however, Wade is coming into her own as a style icon and fashion plate in her own right. This Spring, Wade debuted a new relationship for her Instagram followers, and we loved to see it. 

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Zaya Wade (@zayawade)

From modeling incredible lewks to becoming the face of Dove’s Self Esteem project’s #DetoxYourFeed campaign, Wade isn’t just projecting fierce self-confidence for a new generation of trans girls. She’s showing just how it’s possible for trans kids to thrive in a world where their families protect and advocate for them. It’s something that so many kids can’t even imagine for themselves, but Wade has shown that celebrating transness and being honest about queer identity can make a family even stronger.

“Being my full authentic self feels like freedom,” Zaya said in a recent clip from her Logo30 interview. “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.”

Since introducing herself to the world, Wade has been showing teens that there’s no right or wrong way to be trans, to wear a look, to be exactly who you are. And that’s a message we all need to hear, no matter what age we are, and no matter where we find ourselves in our transition.

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Zaya Wade (@zayawade)

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