The Big LeadThe Big Lead

Zaya Wade, ESPN, and the Importance of Sticking to Being Human

Dwayne Wade, Gabrielle Union
Dwyane Wade and Gabrielle Union | Edward Berthelot/Getty Images

Dwyane Wade and Gabrielle Union have been fierce advocates for their 12-year-old daughter Zaya, who identifies as a girl. Wade went on Ellen to discuss his unexpected journey of discovery and his role as a supportive father.

Wade and Union are high-profile people leading very public lives. Zaya, possessor of remarkable poise for kid that age, is now in that spotlight as well, and is exceedingly comfortable in her own skin. The story has crossed lines from the entertainment world to the sports world as time goes on. In an 18-hour stretch, it was a topic on both High Noon and The Dan Le Batard Show With Stugotz.

Here is what Bomani Jones, Pablo Torre, and Le Batard had to say.

Tackling transgender issues is a tall task, doubly so on a sports show. Even well-meaning people feel as though they don't know what to say, or live in fear of saying the wrong thing. As a society, we're the definition of a work in progress in this area.

That's why it's so powerful to see Wade emerge as a leader, while at the same time making it perfectly clear that he's not the posterboy. What he and the ESPN pundits do so effectively here is point out that it doesn't take a full understanding of all things transgendered to give respect. Or the love of a parent.

One of the things that becomes painfully obvious when a person has children is that there's no way of knowing what type of waves will arrive on your shore. You will often feel woefully unprepared to navigate them. But there is an primal instinct to jump in and help your kids swim, to do whatever it takes to keep their head above the water.

There are undoubtably people out there who don't want to understand. Or those who have that ignorance calcify into fear. And still others who will intentionally misunderstand to win a pointless and empty culture war where empathy is the main casualty.

And perhaps it's naive to have an optimistic outlook or belief that time and education can cure most, if not all. But it certainly would seem there are millions of decent people out there who want to be allies, yet either feel unequipped or paralyzed by not knowing where to start.

Cynics can dismiss these sentiments as preachy. In reality, though, they are better than that. They aren't given while soaked in ego on top of a soap box. They are delivered with feet on the ground and a healthy comfort in knowing that there's more to know.

There's a strong argument to be made that the best way to change hearts and minds is by using both on the most relatable level.