Former NBA player Dwyane Wade responded to allegations from his former wife Thursday, after she said in a court filing earlier this week that he’s trying to make money off their transgender daughter’s “name and gender change.”
Zaya, 15, came out as trans in 2020, and Wade filed a petition with the Los Angeles County Superior Court in August to have her name legally changed.
Siohvaughn Funches-Wade, who was married to Wade from 2002 to 2010, asked the court to deny his petition in an objection that her lawyers filed Tuesday. She said that Wade “may be pressuring our child to move forward with the name and gender change" in order to profit from business opportunities that Zaya was offered, and argued that Zaya should wait until she's 18 to decide if she wants to legally change her name.
In a statement posted to Instagram early Thursday, Wade said Funches-Wade's allegations "have hurt our children."
“While none of us are surprised by Siohvaughn’s attempt to fight Zaya’s identity and her unwavering attempt to drag my name through the mud, I’m very disappointed that she continuously find ways of centering herself and HER needs, without regard to her children,” Wade wrote. “This report came out while Zaya was in class. This is a kid who has maintained a 4.0 GPA in honors classes while navigating all this unsolicited and harmful attention and debates about her gender and sexuality from those who are committed to not listening to her, much less even knowing her!”
In an email to NBC News on Friday, Funches-Wade called her ex-husband’s Instagram remarks “derogatory,” “untrue” and “hurtful," and she said she will continue to “love and protect” her children and do what “is best for them.”
“I will also continue to do what the laws of this land allow me to do as a parent with the parental right and power under the constitution in courts of law and not the court of public opinion,” she wrote.
In an interview with "Good Morning America" in 2020, Wade said that Zaya knew she was transgender at 3 years old.
“I knew early on that I had to check myself," he said. "I’ve been a person in the locker room that has been a part of the conversation that has said the wrong phrases and the wrong words myself.”
“Zaya is more than that,” Wade said of her gender identity . “Zaya is a 14-year-old amazing girl, who since she stepped into her classroom on day one has never gotten lower than A.”
Funches-Wade said in her filing that she is concerned that her former husband might be taking advantage of Zaya's transition.
“Given Petitioner’s high-profile status as a professional athlete, our children’s lives have been highly publicized,” she said. “Petitioner has appeared on national television shows and in media reports regarding our child’s name and gender change. I am concerned that our child is being commercialized at a young age and also of the uncontrollable consequences of media exposure i.e. cyber bullying, statements and/or pictures taken out of context of our child, and unwanted spotlight focused on our child.”
She also said that Wade violated their custody agreement by allowing Zaya to transition without consulting Funches-Wade first.
In his statement Thursday, Wade said that his former wife "tried a similar attempt over a decade ago (with equally damaging lies and causing irreparable harm to her children) and 13 lawyers later, I was awarded sole custody of our two kids as an active NBA player.”
“All I ever wanted was to have my parenting time uninterrupted, as I knew that it would be a very difficult time for our kids to navigate their new normal,” he said.
Wade said that he gave Funches-Wade the opportunity to reach out to and meet Zaya's teachers, doctors, therapists and friends, but that she has not engaged in or attended any school functions.
"No one in our home would ever force Zaya or any of our children to do anything against their will, much less force an identity on them," he said.
Wade added that he has been in touch with his lawyer. A hearing for the case will be held Dec. 12.