Don’t mess with Dwyane Wade.
The retired NBA star and activist delivered a fiery message to lawmakers who’ve signed state laws restricting the rights of trans youth. The father of three also spoke emotionally about his own fears for his 15-year-old transgender daughter Zaya Wade.
“To me, it’s a joke,” Wade told CNN’s Poppy Harlow at the Time100 Summit this week when asked about the hyper-focus lawmakers have on limiting access to gender-affirming medical care for trans youth. “This is our life. We live this. When you’re out there making rules and you’re not experiencing this, if you’re not living this and you’re just out there signing away and making laws, that's not right, that’s a joke.”
“Come and live a day with my daughter,” he added. “Come and see how it is to walk through this world as her.”
“I went years without telling my chef that I don’t like cilantro on my burger — as an adult, it took me years to have the confidence to say that,” Wade said. “My daughter, at 8 years old, had the confidence to say ‘This is who I am. This is who I want to be.'”
The Wade family’s voices come at a crucial moment. Just this week, Louisiana banned trans women from competing in women’s sports — the latest in a string of anti-LGBTQ bills that have been filed this year so far, most of them targeting trans people.
When reflecting on the attacks against the trans community, Wade couldn't help but say that we as Americans are “losing the human side of us.”
“As sad as it is, as blessed as my daughter is to have parents who can support her, I’m still afraid every moment she leaves the house,” he acknowledged. “And not just because of gun violence, but because of the way people perceive her in this world, the way people out there making decisions have now tried to [limit her].”
“It really doesn’t make sense to me,” he continued, seemingly referring to a wide range of attempts to control students' thoughts and learnings, from book bans to Florida's recent "Don't Say Gay" law. “We're in this world right now where... we’re learning information on social media, we can find everything we want to know about life. Our kids can find all these things. Then it’s like, ‘Don’t talk about this in school, don’t do this in school.’”
“Why are we not talking about it?” he continued. “Why are we not educating our kids? Why are we not educating ourselves, instead of trying to close the book on it? You can’t close the book on what somebody wants and how they feel they are. We’re not gonna close the book on anyone being gay, bisexual, transgender, we can’t close the book on it. I personally don’t understand.”
Comprehending the nuances of the trans experience was something Wade had to learn himself.
Last year, the basketball player sat down with Trevor Noah to discuss his photographic memoir, Dwyane, during which he explained how he is helping Zaya find herself in a world that continues to evolve around LGBTQ issues.
“I think when things happen personally to you, when you have a personal connection to something or someone, you take it a little bit more serious,” he said at the time. “When it happens to you, you have to look at it in the face. You have to.”
“[With] my daughter looking at me across the table, I have to, this is something I need to deal with in the sense of, I don’t know everything,” he continued. “As a parent, you want to make sure when your kids come to you, you have answers, you have the right words, you have the right support, whatever it is, you have the right motivation."
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