Gabrielle Union Says Zaya Felt 'Outed' When Photos Were 'Dissected' Online Before Coming Out as Trans
Gabrielle Union is reflecting on her stepdaughter Zaya's coming out experiences.
Back in February, Union, 48, introduced the world to Zaya when the now-13-year-old came out as transgender. On the premiere episode of Facebook Watch's Peace of Mind With Taraji, the actress opened up to co-hosts Taraji P. Henson and Tracie Jade Jenkins about how husband Dwyane Wade's daughter struggled with online speculation about her identity when she appeared on her parents' social media.
"Zaya's peace is nonnegotiable," says Union. "As Zaya gathered more language, she was able to tell us about her identity. She was able to tell us about her sexuality. She was able to tell us 'I'm trans.' And she says, 'I've come out a few times. I came out to my teacher in third grade, and then when you guys posted that picture of me in Chicago at my birthday party.' "
"And it's just Zaya standing next to her cake," Union says of the social media snapshot. "And that picture was dissected on certain Black blogs, and the comments were the guessing as to who Zaya was and why. … She said, 'It felt like I was outed, and I was just standing next to my cake.'
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Gabrielle Union Says She and Dwyane Wade Are Daughter Zaya's 'Lifetime Lifelines to Love'
Union — who shares 2-year-old daughter Kaavia James with Wade and is stepmom to Zaya plus his two sons Xavier Zechariah, 7, and Zaire, 18 — adds that she and her NBA star husband are still learning as parents. "We only know what we know," she says, "and we have to be open to embrace that we don't know s—."
Union also shared that Zaya has started cheerleading — and the Bring It On actress jokes that "she better bring it!"
Opening up about the unconditional love he and Union have for their family, Wade previously told PEOPLE in February that he hopes they all will "see their full potential."
"As I'm raising [Zaya], as I'm raising my kids, you just try to put them in the best situations to be able to succeed in life," he said at the time. "How I do that, and how me and my wife decide to do that, may be different than another family, but we want them to know there’s always unconditional love, that it will always be support."
"We’ve got you, no matter what. And we see you," he added. "I see you how you see you."
Dwyane Wade & Gabrielle Union Praise Daughter Zaya at GLAAD Awards for 'Leading Us in Our Journey'
On Peace of Mind, Henson co-hosts alongside her longtime friend Jenkins, and together the two discuss mental health issues — particularly those in the Black community — with celebrities, experts and everyday people. Each episode will focus on a different mental health topic.
Upcoming guests include Tamar Braxton, who will share her experience with the damaging pressure of being a strong Black woman; Mary J. Blige will open up about the feelings of isolation and despair during the holidays; and Jay Pharoah will join the show to discuss police brutality.
Celebrity guests will appear on Monday, and then Henson and Jenkins will sit down with licensed professionals and experts on Wednesday to dive deeper into the previous guest's conversations to offer helpful techniques and tools.
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