Fights for social justice are long and often messy. Progress regularly comes in the slightest of steps. What helps a lot is when powerful people, those in the public eye who have the opportunity to reach millions, not only voice their support for these causes but demonstrate it through their actions as well.
We saw that this week when NBA legend Dwyane Wade openly supported his transgender daughter Zaya in a variety of ways.
“This is our opportunity to allow [Zaya] to be a voice,” Wade said during an interview with Ellen DeGeneres. “Right now it’s through us, because she’s 12 years old, but eventually it will be through her.”
In the NBA, a league where former players such as Tim Hardaway and Mark Jackson have made or been accused of making homophobic comments, the fact that Wade and his wife, Gabrielle Union, are willing to take the time to better understand their daughter’s struggles is incredibly refreshing to see. He also spoke about how he is making an active effort to better understand LGBTQ issues.
“Internally, now it’s our job to go out and get information, to reach out to every relationship that we have,” Wade said. “We’re just trying to figure out as much information as we can to make sure that we give our child the best opportunity to be her best self.”
But it’s not just Wade’s status as a basketball player that makes this story particularly stand out. It’s the intertwining of race, gender and celebrity that ties it all together. Although transgender people in general face challenges that cisgender people do not face, these problems are even more extreme for black transgender people. Studies show that the rates of poverty, homelessness and unemployment are all far higher for trans black people than for trans people in general. Suicide attempts in the trans black community are frequent, and roughly 50% of trans black youth report facing harassment of some kind at school. When a black parent shows such unconditional support for his child, and that parent is also one of the most recognizable basketball players of the 21st century, it points the issue in a far more positive direction.
Obviously, there is still a very long way to go until transgender people are fully accepted in society. But when someone like Dwyane Wade uses his platform to speak and act on support for the community, it provides hope for a far better future.
This is the opinion of Alex Hutton, a junior journalism major from Oakland, CA. Tweet comments to @AlexHutton35 or email comments to email@example.com.