Retired NBA superstar and philanthropist Dwyane Wade spoke emotionally about his fears for his 15-year-old transgender daughter Zaya at the TIME100 Summit Tuesday—as states across the country move to restrict the rights of trans youth.
“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,” he told CNN’s Poppy Harlow at the event in New York City. “And not just because of gun violence, but because of the way people perceive her in this world.”
Wade also criticized lawmakers who have worked to deny access to gender-affirming medical care for trans youth, and block trans athletes from competing in grade 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.”
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. This week, Louisiana banned transgender women from competing in women’s sports.
Alongside his wife Gabrielle Union, Wade has been open about sharing his family’s story as their daughter Zaya came out as trans in 2020. He spoke about gender equality and the ways in which being a parent taught him about listening and following his child’s lead. “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,” he said. “My daughter, at eight years old, had the confidence to say ‘This is who I am. This is who I want to be.”
He called on lawmakers and parents to learn about the LGBTQ community before “closing the book” with laws like Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” law, which bans public school districts from teaching about sexual orientation or gender in certain grade levels. He worries the restrictions on LGBTQ rights are a result of people losing “the human side of us.”
Over his 16-year-NBA career—which featured three NBA championships and 13 All-Star appearances—Wade has been no stranger to speaking out against politics. But, when Harlow asked if he might run for office one day, Wade was hesitant: “I don’t know. I won’t say no.”
The TIME 100 Summit is the live event extension of the annual TIME 100 list of the most influential people in the world. It convenes leaders from the global TIME 100 community to spotlight solutions and encourage action toward a better world. This year’s summit features a variety of impactful speakers across a diverse range of sectors, including politics, business, health and science, culture, and more.
Speakers for the 2022 TIME 100 Summit include Apple CEO Tim Cook, producer Mindy Kaling, filmmaker Taika Waititi, U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry, musician Jon Batiste, Barbadian Prime Minister Mia Mottley, former U.S. Rep. Gabby Giffords, #MeToo founder Tarana Burke, ACLU deputy director for transgender justice Chase Strangio, Christian Siriano founder and creative director Christian Siriano, Brother Vellies founder and creative director Aurora James, Netflix head of global TV Bela Bajaria, author and poet Cathy Park Hong, Olympic freestyle skiing champion Eileen Gu, author, poet, and president of the Mellon Foundation Elizabeth Alexander, filmmaker Betsy West, filmmaker Julie Cohen, BioNTech SE senior vice president Dr. Katalin Karikó, Ukrayinska Pravda editor in chief Sevgil Musaieva, and TIME co-chair and Salesforce chair and co-CEO Marc Benioff.
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