Former Miami Heat player Dwyane Wade took to Instagram Thursday morning to respond to a legal filing from his ex-wife Siohvaughn Funches-Wade, who objects to their transgender daughter Zaya legally changing her name and gender.
“Since this must be the new way of parenting, I guess I have to address these allegations here, which is a damn shame,” he wrote.
The statement garnered support from NBA players and media personalities including the Los Angeles Lakers' LeBron James and Phoenix Suns' Chris Paul.
Wade petitioned the court on Aug. 22 asking that his 15-year-old daughter be allowed to change her name to Zaya Malachi Airamis Wade. While Fuches-Wade claims to not have been notified prior to the filing, Wade says that “Siohvaughn has decided to pretty much be an absent parent to Zaya all on her own.”
Fuches-Wade, 41, submitted an objection to a Los Angeles County court to prevent her former husband from allowing Zaya to legally change her name and gender until she turns 18, “the age of majority, to make permanent changes to her identity,” court documents said.
She also alleged that Wade, who reportedly earned an estimated $200 million during his 16-year NBA career, "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." To support this claim, she cited a conversation where Wade referred to Disney as a company interested in working with Zaya, documents filed by her attorney said.
Wade addressed these claims writing, “I’ve received a social media post about me forcing our 15 year old child to be someone she’s not and to do something against her will. These are serious and harmful allegations that have hurt our children.”
Wade noted that reports of her objection filing were released while Zaya, an honors student who carries a 4.0 GPA, was in class, potentially subjecting her to “unsolicited and harmful attention and debates about her gender and sexuality from those who are committed to not listening to her, much less even knowing her.”
In his statement, Wade referenced previous litigation from his ex “over a decade ago” which resulted in Wade being awarded full custody of their two children while he was an active NBA player.
Dwyane and Siohvaughn were married in 2002 until she field for divorce five years later. Siohvaughn "embarked on an unstoppable and relentless pattern of conduct for over two years to alienate the children from their father, and lacks either the ability or the willingness to facilitate, let alone encourage, a close and continuing relationship between them," Chicago Judge Renee G. Goldfard said in her ruling, according to ESPN Milwaukee.
Zaya came out as trans in 2020, and has had the full public support of Wade, his wife actress Gabrielle Union-Wade, and eldest son Zaire, 20, who is a basketball player that most recently played for the Salt Lake City Stars.
Wade alleged that Fuches-Wade has not offered the same support." Instead of actually trying to co-parent over the years, she's left her home to see more lawyers and has taken the time to talk to more lawyers since I filed for divorce, than she's left her home to actually see or have truly spoken and LISTENED to Zaya over all these years," he wrote.
Wade first discussed Zaya's gender identity publicly on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" in February 2020, saying at the time that he Union-Wade are "proud parents of a child in the LGBTQ+ community.
In a video shared on Twitter by Union-Wade, Zaya spoke about her experience and offered advice to anyone "afraid of being judged."
"Don't even think about that, you know, just be true to yourself," she declared. "What's the point of being on this earth if you're going to try to be someone you're not? It's like, you're not even living as yourself, which is the dumbest concept to me. Be true and don't really care what the 'stereotypical way' of being you is."
A hearing to resolve the case will be held in Los Angeles on Dec. 12.