Dwyane Wade’s enthusiasm for his child’s gender transition offers a fascinating example of transgender ideology’s selective performativity. Wade’s 12-year-old son, born Zion, recently announced he wanted to be referred to as a “she.” During an appearance on Ellen, Wade discussed in detail how happy he and his wife (celebrity Gabrielle Union) were to support “Zaya’s” new identity:
We take our roles and responsibility as parents very seriously. So when our child comes home with a question, when our child comes home with an issue, when our child comes home with anything, it’s our job as parents to listen to that, to give them the best information we can, the best feedback we can. And that doesn’t change because sexuality is now involved in it….
That was our job, to go out and get information, to reach out to every relationship that we have. My wife reached out to everybody on the cast of ‘Pose,'” he said, referring to the FX drama series centered around LGBTQ characters. “We just tried 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.
This statement is so lacking in meaning or coherence it borders on the Congressional, yet it is precisely the kind of deferential language that is demanded from civilized people. The Wades believe it’s their “job to listen” to their children, but you don’t have to be a parent to realize that there is far, far more to raising kids than listening. Every single person in the history of puberty has had feelings, thoughts, and opinions that would result in humiliation or worse had they been affirmed by adults. What’s missing in Wade’s description of his job as a parent is any mention of leadership, guidance, or formation.
It is revealing that one of the Wades’ first responses to their biological son’s revelation was to approach professional entertainers for advice. Celebrities and politicians are indeed the vanguard of the transgender movement’s forward march. I wish instead of reaching out to the cast of Pose Wade has instead sent an email to Lisa Littman, the Brown University social scientist whose research into what she has labeled “rapid onset gender dysphoria” (ROGD) suggests that peer culture, especially via social media, puts tremendous pressure on teens and preteens to question their sex, and offers social rewards to those who do. Given that Littman was rebuked by her own institution merely for researching ROGD, we can probably assume there weren’t many people handing Littman’s business card to the Wades.
Wade’s answer on Ellen was a slam dunk with journalists and activists, who praised him for his open-mindedness and parental support. What’s interesting is that Wade has also made some very public expressions of support for the WNBA, which for years has struggled to get a broad audience. In an interview alongside fellow superstar Anthony Davis, Wade said the league’s fledgling popularity has gone on “too long” and hoped the MeToo and #TimesUp movements would result in its growth.
Wade said he’s always been a supporter of equality. But his perspective has changed even more since he and his wife, Gabrielle Union, had a daughter in December. “When you have a daughter who loves sports and grew up around it, they may want to be on this stage one day,” Wade said. “Hopefully, the game grows bigger. If my daughter wants to play here, by the time she gets here, hopefully, they’re selling out every night in every arena.”
This is yet more evidence that people do not actually think in terms of gender fluidity, but must be taught to talk as if they do. In the past, Wade expressed a very normal ambition that his baby daughter might one day succeed in a women’s sports league. Yet the trans ideology he now endorses is a death knell to women’s sports. Its presuppositions are fundamentally incompatible with those that led to the creation of women’s athletic programs at every level. It is impossible to maintain a legitimate culture of female athletics while allowing that a biological male, with the help of a pill and surgical knife, may compete against women. When this is pointed out, even by a legendary female athlete and feminist icon, the response is outrage and cancellation.
Trans activists simply refuse to engage with the overwhelming biological data confirming innate differences in physical capacities between males and females. The WNBA has, of course, acknowledged this data, which is why there are numerous discrepancies between NBA rules and WNBA rules. The women’s association features a longer shot clock, a smaller basketball, a closer 3-point line, and no rules against zone defense. All of these changes reflect a common sense need to reflect physical differences in men and women. More importantly, these changes assume continuity between female physical attributes and a women’s league. Of course, some WNBA players are stronger than others or have larger hands. Rules don’t exist to speak into every possible version of the game; they exist to define the nature of the game. That’s why trans ideology would undo the WNBA as it currently exists.
The trans-positive movement is a parable in the inevitability of dogma. Helping a child “be her best self” sounds like therapeutic relativism, but the nature of trans activism confirms that it is actually a deeply moralistic idea. Your best self is the version that affirms, at whatever cost, the felt desires of others’ best selves. At some point, WNBA supporter dwyane Wade is going to be asked whether he would like to see his transgendered daughter play in the league that was established and structured by and for women. Like the Pharisees and the question of John’s baptism, Wade will face an impossible dilemma: Say one thing, and watch your beliefs fall apart. Say another, and you’ll have to flee the crowd.