In a stirring acceptance speech during the NAACP’s 54th Image Awards ceremony, Utah Jazz part owner and retired NBA star Dwyane Wade said as the father of a transgender daughter, “all I’ve wanted was to do it right.”
Wade and his spouse Gabrielle Union, who is an actress, author and entrepreneur, were recently honored with the NAACP’s President’s Award for their social justice work and distinguished public service.
Wade and Union dedicated the award to their 15-year-old daughter, Zaya, who on Friday was granted a name and gender change by a Los Angeles County court. Zaya came out as transgender in 2020.
“I’ve sat back and watched how gracefully you take it on the public, the public scrutiny. And even though it’s not easy, I watched you walk out of that house every morning as yourself. I admire how you’ve handled the ignorance in our world. I admire you’ve made me a better human, just simply by being who you were born to be,” Wade said.
Union called for a “new era of activism” to protect the Black LGBTQ community, particularly transgender people.
“Will we fight for some or we fight for all of our people? Black trans people are being targeted, terrorized and hunted in this country every day, everywhere,” she said.
Previous recipients of the President’s Award include Rihanna, LeBron James, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, Muhammad Ali, Jesse Jackson, Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice, Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter, Lauryn Hill and Soledad O’Brien, among others, according to an NAACP press release.
“We’re thrilled to present this award to Gabrielle Union-Wade and Dwyane Wade who together have consistently utilized their platforms to advance social justice and raise awareness to the inequalities existing in our country,” NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson said in a press release.
“We’re proud to recognize the couple’s tireless humanitarian work as they continue to advocate for equality and acceptance for all.”
According to the press release, the Wade Family Foundation provides relief to marginalized communities in need, helping to advance racial justice and LGBTQ equality. Wade and Union have worked to help raise money for the LGBTQ nonprofit GLSEN, which is dedicated to ending bullying and discrimination in schools, among other work.
Wade, a three-time NBA champion and 13-time All-Star, acquired an ownership stake in the Jazz in April 2021.
The Utah Legislature, now in the final days of its general session, has passed a number of bills related to transgender youth.
SB16, passed earlier in the session, bans sex characteristic reassignment surgeries for Utah children and teens, often referred to as gender-affirming care, and places an indefinite moratorium on new treatments including puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones for minors.
In a statement released last month after he signed the bill, Utah Gov. Spencer Cox said “Legislation that impacts our most vulnerable youth requires careful consideration and deliberation.” He praised Sen. Mike Kennedy, R-Alpine, a practicing family physician, for his “thoughtful approach to this terribly divisive issue.”
“More and more experts, states and countries around the world are pausing these permanent and life-altering treatments for new patients until more and better research can help determine the long-term consequences,” Cox said.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Utah and the National Center for Lesbian Rights announced plans to challenge it in court.
Meanwhile, SB93 would create a procedure a court must follow to grant a petition to amend the sex designation on a birth certificate and require a court to appoint a guardian ad litem. That bill passed the Utah Senate by a 19-8 vote and is before the House Rules Committee.