Dwyane Wade’s Acceptance of His Trans Daughter Zaya Triggers Barrage of Ugly Hip-Hop Hate

Cassie da Costa
Photo Illustration by Elizabeth Brockway/The Daily Beast/Getty

Last week, famous parents Gabrielle Union and Dwyane Wade were praised by fans and LGBTQ+ community advocates for their acceptance of their daughter, Zaya, who recently came out as a trans girl. Wade and Union have made it a point to share their insights—as well as Zaya’s—about what it means to accept and support your trans child, on social media as well as TV shows like Ellen. Whatever you think of the celebrity multimedia circuit, their vocal and public acceptance of Zaya is important because trans black women are disproportionately victims of violence, especially murder. Zaya is the daughter of very wealthy, accepting parents, and so will have more protection than the general trans population regardless of race, but it is precisely Union and Wade’s platform as celebrities that could help make the conversation about all black trans women’s safety difficult to ignore.

Beyond the praise, however, Zaya (and Wade by proxy) has been on the receiving end of unsolicited transphobic advice by rappers Boosie Badazz and Young Thug. Both have misgendered Zaya, and in an especially disgusting and shameful tirade, Boosie has even discussed the child’s genitalia.

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The rappers seem to be fixated on the idea that Zaya’s transness is just a phase or delusion. These views are, unfortunately, common—trans identities are still seen by many, even by cis gays and lesbians, as fantasies or pleas for attention. And, as to be expected in a patriarchal society, many adults have made it their business to involve themselves in the affairs of trans kids and adults, alike. In Idaho and Missouri, for example, several bills have recently been brought to legislature that will make life for trans and non-binary kids, as well as adults, exceedingly difficult.

Many of these bills focus on youth because the abstract “think about the children!” angle can be paradoxically skillful at weaseling people out of openness and compassion in the name of a false justice. These concerned adults don’t only question medical interventions for trans youth, but also the validity of their identities in general; they want to keep children from receiving gender-confirming medications that can and do prevent many of them from committing suicide and also want to prevent these kids from using the bathrooms that are in accordance with their genders. This is the kind of concern-trolling that both Young Thug and Boosie Badazz have utilized to attack the trans child of a celebrity they are apparently obsessed with.

Young Thug has since deleted his tweet, and Boosie’s Instagram story will eventually disappear itself. But the ideas they have expressed will linger in the popular consciousness, as well as the desire amongst many adults, including legislators, to involve their own hang-ups in the affairs of other people’s children. The specifics of Zaya’s transition—whether she will take puberty blockers, hormones, or undergo any surgeries—are no one’s business but her own and, while she is a minor, her parents’. Grown men like Young Thug, who has financially benefited from a societal openness to “gender-bending” dress, and Boosie ought to quit their creepy online speculation.

What we should be worried about is that, all too often, trans kids and adults die not because of their gender identities, but because of our inability to trust that they are worth hearing and supporting without prejudice.

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