Zaya Wade, Dwayne Wade launch Translatable for parents of trans youth of color

Zaya Wade Dwayne Wade Translatable

NBA Hall of Famer Dwyane Wade and Zaya, his transgender daughter, have launched Translatable, an online resource for trans youth of color and their families. The father and daughter announced Translatable in an Instagram video last week. Photo: Translatable

NBA Hall of Famer Dwyane Wade and Zaya, his transgender daughter, have launched Translatable, an online resource for trans youth of color and their families.

The father and daughter announced Translatable in an Instagram video last week. 

Translatable offers a safe space “for youth to express themselves through a number of creative outlets” and will “focus on communities of color, center the most marginalized, and emphasize the importance of parents and family,” Zaya Wade, 16, said.

Zaya, Dwayne, 42, and Gabrielle Union, his wife, 51, were fortunate to have resources that helped support Zaya in her journey when she came out as trans in 2020. But Dwayne acknowledged that everyone doesn’t have the same access.

“That’s why it’s so important to create a collaborative space for communities to participate in this conversation and express themselves freely,” Dwayne said. “We want to emphasize that the learning never stops.”

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Black trans youth

Black trans youth have a particularly difficult time finding support from their families, according to the Human Rights Campaign’s 2019 Black and African American LGBTQ Youth Report:

  • 77% of black youth said they have heard family members say negative things about LGBTQ people
  • 47% have been taunted or mocked by family for being LGBTQ only 19% can “definitely” be themselves at home
  • 67% of black trans youth specifically say their families make them feel bad because of their trans identity.
  • 80% say they feel depressed or down due to not being accepted.

Dwayne, Zaya, Gabrielle Union leave Florida

Dwayne said Zaya has been his “biggest educator and inspiration.”

Last year, Dwayne, Zaya, and Union left Florida, where Dwyane spent more than 14 seasons with the Miami Heat, and moved to California because Florida wasn’t a safe environment for trans people and their families, Dwayne told the Associated Press Thursday.

Dwayne was in Miami last week to accept the Elevate Prize Foundation’s Catalyst Award for his advocacy for the trans community.

Zaya Wade wanted Translatable

At the ceremony, Dwayne said Zaya was the driving force behind Translatable.

“The question was presented to her as, ‘If you have one thing that you want to see change in this community, what would it be?’,” he said, according to AP.

“And for her, it goes right to parents. It goes right to the adults. It goes right to us. It’s not the kids. It’s us. And so she wanted to create a space that felt safe for parents and their kids,” Dwayne said. “That’s what Translatable is, and it’s her baby.”

Dwayne will use the $250,000 grant that comes with the award from the Elevate Prize Foundation to support Translatable, in addition to funding from his Wade Family Foundation, he said. 

The Human Rights Campaign and the Trevor Project also support Translatable.

Dwayne uses his celebrity power

Alexander Roque, executive director of the Ali Forney Center, praised Dwyane for using his celebrity power to support trans youth in a year when more than 500 anti-LGBTQ+ bills, many of them specifically anti-trans, have been introduced in state legislatures across the country.

“Not all bills turn into law, but they’re all acts of hate that affect our kids in very devastating ways,” he told AP. “We know statistically that every time there’s an anti-LGBTQ bill in the media, there’s a 400 percent increase in calls to suicide hotlines by young people.

“We also know that we’re seeing a significant increase in unhoused LGBTQ youth because of family rejection,” Roque said. “So to have someone of this celebrity so invested in the community, it’s helping to change the tide of what’s happening to our kids and perhaps one of the most hopeful moments in what I hope is a changing tide.”

About the author

Phillip Zonkel

Award-winning journalist Phillip Zonkel spent 17 years at Long Beach's Press-Telegram, where he was the first reporter in the paper's history to have a beat covering the city's vibrant LGBTQ. He also created and ran the popular and innovative LGBTQ news blog, Out in the 562.

He won two awards and received a nomination for his reporting on the local LGBTQ community, including a two-part investigation that exposed anti-gay bullying of local high school students and the school districts' failure to implement state mandated protections for LGBTQ students.

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