Dwyane Wade Admits He Fears for Daughter Zaya's Safety 'Every Moment She Leaves the House'

The retired NBA superstar opened up about his fears as the parent of a transgender child.

Dwyane Wade is getting candid about his fears as the parent of a transgender child. The 40-year-old spoke with CNN at the TIME100 summit on Tuesday, where he opened up about his desire to protect his daughter, Zaya Wade, 15, as lawmakers continue to pass anti-trans policies around the country. 

"As blessed as it is for my daughter to have parents who can support her, I’m still afraid every moment she leaves the house," Dwyane told CNN's Poppy Harlow. "And not just because of gun violence, but because of the way people perceive her in this world."

The retired NBA superstar and philanthropist criticized lawmakers who have passed acts denying trans youth access to gender-affirming medical care and blocking trans athletes from competing in school sports aligned with their gender identity. 

"To me, it’s a joke. This is our life. We live this. When you’re out there making rules, if you’re not experiencing this," he said. "Come and live a day with my daughter. Come and see how it is to walk through this world as her."

Dwyane also praised Zaya for the lessons she's taught him through her gender-identity journey, noting that he was inspired by his daughter's confidence to embrace her identity at a young age.

"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. My daughter, at eight years old, had the confidence to say, 'This is who I am. This is who I want to be,'" Dwyane said proudly.

Trans athlete bans are currently under consideration in nearly 20 states, according to Freedom for All Americans, which tracks legislation considered discriminatory against the LGBTQ population. On Tuesday, the Pennsylvania Senate passed Republican-sponsored legislation to prohibit transgender women from participating in women's sports. The proposal, which passed 30-20, now heads to the House, where an identical bill was previously approved. One Democrat, Sen. Lisa Boscola of Northampton County, crossed party lines to vote in favor of the Senate version.

Sponsored by Sen. Judy Ward, R-Blair, the bill requires public K-12 schools and colleges to designate sports as male, female or coed.

Dwyane is father to Zaya, her brother, Zaire, 20, son Xavier, 8, and daughter Kaavia, 3, whom he shares with wife Gabrielle Union. The family introduced the world to Zaya back in February 2020, with a touching video featuring Dwyane and then-12-year-old Zaya, on a golf cart together talking about being true to one's self. 

"Meet Zaya. She's compassionate, loving, whip smart and we are so proud of her. It’s Ok to listen to, love & respect your children exactly as they are. Love and light good people," Gabrielle tweeted at the time.

"Don't even worry about that, just be true to yourself," Zaya said in the video, to those who worry about being judged. "What's the point of being on this earth if you're just going to try to be someone you're not? It's like, you're not even living your true self, which is like, the dumbest concept to me. Be true and don't really care what the stereotypical way of being you is."

During an appearance on The Ellen DeGeneres Show soon after, Dwyane opened up more about Zaya

"Zaya, our 12-year-old, came home... and said, 'Hey, so I want to talk to you guys. I think going forward I'm ready to live my truth. And I want to be referenced as 'she' and 'her.' I would love for you guys to call me Zaya,'" Dwyane recalled. "And so internally, now it's our job to one, go out and get information, to reach out to every relationship that we have."

"Once [Zaya] came home and said, 'Hey, you call me Zaya. I'm ready to take on this,' I looked at her and said, 'You are a leader. You are a leader. And this is our opportunity to allow you to be a voice,'" he continued. "Right now, it's through us because she's 12 years old. But eventually, it'll be through her."

Dwyane told ET that Zaya's journey had taught him more about himself. 

"For me, it's always about being able to adapt and being able to learn, and always being able to grow," he shared. "I think coming from the inner city of Chicago early on, I was kind of closed-minded on a lot of things. And I've been with my wife, traveling the world, meeting people, going to different places, I've learned to keep my mind open, keep my eyes open, keep my heart open, keep my thoughts open."

"That's what I've been trying to do as I'm growing into the man that I've always dreamed of becoming," Dwyane said. 

Since then, Dwyane and Gabrielle -- and the rest of their family --  have proudly supported Zaya throughout her endeavors. From sharing sweet messages about unconditional love to using their platform to honor her journey and stand as allies with the LGBTQ+ community, the Wades are never shy about showing love for their own

ET spoke with the parents at the premiere of Magic Johnson's new Apple TV+ docuseries, They Call Me Magic, where Gabrielle shared how Magic and his wife, Cookie, showed them "the way" through their support of their son, EJ Johnson -- who came out publicly as gay in 2013. 

"It's all about perseverance and putting your family first and loving every member of your family equally and out loud. And they showed us the way," the 49-year-old actress said. "They were the first people we called, 'OK, we're moving to L.A., what school do you guys think is the best school for Zaya?' And they gave us the blueprint. And literally, every step of the way, in my career, in his career, they have been there."

For Dwyane, seeing Magic embrace EJ, allowed him to better embrace Zaya, and it allowed their kids to be there for each other too, as they each embark on their own journey.

"We got an opportunity to see EJ and Zaya embrace. As a father, to see all of our kids embrace, and understand that they're on journeys that are different than our journey. They all are. And to see them embrace and see them be all like, 'Yo, whatever you need, I got you. I'm here.' To me, that's like what Magic and Cookie have been to us as adults. And to see EJ do the same thing to Zaya, it was amazing," Dwyane shared before recalling watching Magic speak proudly about his son while on Arsenio Hall in 2013.

He continued, "That moment, when I seen a Black man, a professional athlete, stand up proud of his child, no matter what they're doing in life, just being proud of who they are and who they've come to be, it makes it easier for me to say, 'I saw one of my idols do it, a big brother, I can do the same.'"