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Dwyane Wade wants his son to transition into a girl so that he can 'capitalize on the financial opportunities' from companies like Disney, ex-wife alleges

Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for TIME

Former NBA star Dwyane Wade is now facing startling allegations from his ex-wife, the mother of his two children. His ex claims that Wade has pressured their younger son into becoming a girl so that Wade can reap a "profit" from various companies interested in using transgender models for their products.

Back in August, Wade filed a petition in Los Angeles Superior Court so that his 15-year-old son Zion can legally become a girl and change his name to Zaya. Siohvaughn Funches-Wade, who was married to Wade from 2002 until 2010, contested that filing, saying that it violates their custody agreement.

Their 2011 agreement awarded full custody of Zion and his older brother Zaire, who is now 20, to Wade. However, it also stated that Funches-Wade "shall discuss with and obtain input in the major decisions affecting care, welfare, activities, health, education and religious upbringing." Despite this statement of cooperative parenting, Wade insisted that he retains full authority to make decisions regarding Zion's supposed transgenderism and that he informed Funches-Wade about the transition only as a "courtesy."

Funches-Wade wants Zion to delay making any transition decisions until he is an adult. She also alleged that Wade and his current wife, Gabrielle Union, have a significant financial interest in having Zion become Zaya. She stated that back in March, Wade told her "that a lot of money had been already made and that additional money will be made in relation to our child’s name and gender issue." She also claimed that Wade mentioned several global corporations that were interested in investing in Zaya, though it is unclear whether they would still be interested in him, should he remain Zion.

Zion "came out" as a girl in 2019, when he was just 12. Since he has dressed as a girl and gone by the name Zaya, he has received modeling contracts from Tiffany and Dove. Funches-Wade also alleged in the filing that Disney may also be interested in signing a deal with Zaya.

"'I have concerns that [Wade] may be pressuring our child to move forward with the name and gender change in order to capitalize on the financial opportunities that he has received from companies," Funches-Wade asserted in the court filing.

"[Wade] told me that he intended to make our child very famous due to the name and gender issue and also informed me that there would be endorsements/contracts associated therewith," the filing also states.

Wade discussed Zion's transition into Zaya on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" in 2020.

"Our [then] 12-year-old came home ... and said, 'Hey, I want to talk to you guys. I think going forward I'm ready to live my truth, and I want to be referenced as 'she' and 'her,' and I would love for you guys to call me Zaya,'" Wade told host Ellen DeGeneres.

"I watched my son, from day one, become into who she now eventually has come into," he added. "And for me, ... nothing changes with my love. Nothing changes in my responsibilities. So, all I had to do now is get smarter, educate myself more. And that’s my job."

A hearing on the case is scheduled for December.

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