Hill Harper Faces Backlash After Misgendering and Calling Dwayne Wade’s Daughter, Zaya Wade ‘Young Man’ Actor Issues Lengthy Apology

Times have indeed changed, and are continuously changing in society, where generations are facing their differences head-on.  Today’s generation has become much more fearless and accepting than their predecessors, and have been fighting the long hard fight to correct the errs of yesteryear.  There are some that have begun to acquiesce, while there are those that still reside in the valley of confusion or decision.  And then there are those that just aren’t budging.  

Fifty-four-year-old The Good Doctor star Hill Harper falls under one of those categories and is learning to be more careful of his choice of wording.  For, the actor is coming under fire for comments he’s made that unconsciously misgendered Dwyane Wade’s daughter, Zaya Wade, after she transitioned from male to female at the young age of 12.  

Members of the LGBTQ+ community already face a lot of issues with discrimination and other hateful actions directed towards them.  Zaya, born Zion and a male at birth, made the decision at a young age to transition and live her truth, and even though she faced criticism for her age and decision, she had the full support of her NBA player father and step-mother Gabrielle Union.  

“Me and my wife, my wife Gabrielle Union…we are proud parents of a child in the LGBTQ+ community and we’re proud allies as well,” he told Ellen DeGeneres on her talk show.  ”We take our roles and responsibility as parents very seriously.  Zion, born as a boy, came home and said, ‘Hey, so I want to talk to you guys. I think going forward I am ready to live my truth. I want to be referenced as ‘she’ and ‘her.’ I would love for you guys to call me Zaya.’”

He continued: “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 that we can, the best feedback that we can. And that doesn’t change because sexuality is now involved in it.”

Wade admitted that he wasn’t fully aware of the education behind transgender individuals, and took on the responsibility to gain knowledge.  “Now it’s our job to one, 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.”

This year for the young teenager’s 13th birthday, her parents shared some touching words about her courage and strength as she celebrates this milestone in her life.   “I’ve woken up every day this week with low energy and not a lot of faith in people, her father Dwyane wrote on Instagram. “But waking up and watching you smile, watching you walk in your truth and live your life your way is one of the greatest gifts I’ve been able to experience in my life. In a world where the color of your skin is deemed a threat, you continue to be the bravest person I know and I’m gonna stand by your side until there isn’t anymore standing left to do. I love you more than words can articulate. I hope you feel all of my love today and every day of your life. You’re Bold, You’re courageous, You are Zaya.”

Union joined in on the emotional love fest with a message of her own to Zaya.  “Happy Birthday baby!!! I can’t believe you are 13,” the Girls Trip actress exclaimed. “[Zaya Wade] you are such an inspiration and motivation to get my butt up every day and fight. When I’m weary, frustrated, full of rage, I see your face and your joy and you living your best life and I want that for all of us. I love you sooooo much kid!! Enjoy this day and every day knowing you are loved, protected, respected, admired, and celebrated.”

Union’s post was filled with love, support, and well wishes for the young girl, Harper stepped in with a message of his own that misgendered Zaya.  Happy Birthday young man!! Read Letters to a Young Brother!!!” he wrote. “Your mom wrote something in it!! You’ll love it! Have a great day!!”

Harper, also a renowned author, was referring to his book, “Letters to a Young Brother: MANifest your destiny’ is specifically geared towards men. Harper has however written a book for women, ‘Letters to a Young Sister: DeFINE Your Destiny, but didn’t choose to mention that one.  Social media became incensed with his comments, causing him to offer up a lengthy apology in a series of tweets on Twitter.

“I would like to apologize for my post,” Harper tweeted. “I am responsible for what gets posted and I made a horrible error. I misgendered my friend’s child and I am so sorry to Zaya and the entire Wade family. It was not my intention to misgender and misrepresent her in any way. I celebrate Zaya.”

He continued, “As a family friend I feel so bad that I may have taken away from the celebration. Zaya’s courage and strength is something I celebrate. And there was absolutely no malicious intent to my post. I am human and I am learning and often trying to do too many things which leads to mistakes like this one. I am sorry. I’m sorry to those my post offended, that was certainly not my intention.”

Harper wasn’t quite done, highlighting that the world is indeed in a frenzy right now, and his intention was not to bring any ill-will on her birthday.  “There are many challenging things going on in the world right now and I certainly didn’t intend my birthday wish to be a negative distraction and certainly didn’t want it to take away from a celebratory birthday for Zaya. I extend my heartfelt apology to Zaya, the Wade family.”

No comment has been made at this time from either Dwyane Wade or Gabrielle Union on Harper’s comments or apology. 

About Jamari Williams

Jamari Williams is a seasoned journalist who works mainly in the fields of music, film and television. Jamari is a Morehouse graduate who began writing at the age of 12 and have wrote for many new media companies.

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