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Published on May 23, 2024
NBA Icon Dwyane Wade Launches 'Translatable' to Support Transgender Youth in Miami BeachSource: Wikipedia/Flickr user Keith Allison, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Former NBA star Dwyane Wade is lending his championship pedigree to a different kind of court, launching an online community aimed at supporting transgender youth. The initiative, dubbed Translatable, was revealed by the retired Miami Heat guard at The Elevate Prize Foundation’s Make Good Famous Summit in Miami Beach last week, where he received the Elevate Prize Catalyst Award.

Wade, a Miami legend who has lived up to his "Flash" nickname on and off the court, has shifted his focus to advocating for transgender rights, notably after his daughter Zaya came out as transgender in 2020. "But the community wasn’t here for Zaya, so the community wasn’t here for us," Wade said in an interview before the ceremony, according to WSVN. The Wades sold their Florida home last year amid rising anti-trans legislation in the state.

At the center of Translatable's mission is the creation of a safe space for parents and their kids navigating the complexities of gender identity. "The question was presented to her as, ‘If you have one thing that you want to see change in this community, what would it be?’," Wade recalled, as Zaya pinpointed the need to address adults' understanding and acceptance. Wade's foundation is funding the project, which aims to support mental health and well-being and foster an inclusive environment, as per AP News.

The Elevate Prize Foundation, impressed by Wade's venture into the realm of social justice, contributed an additional undisclosed sum to the project. "He is such a hero in the sports universe and even beyond basketball," Elevate Prize Foundation CEO Carolina Garcìa Jayaram told AP News, highlighting Wade's long-standing commitment to equality. Jayaram also commended Wade’s decision to base Translatable in Florida, a place she feels some might find exclusionary.

As concerns over anti-LGBTQ legislation continue to mount—over 500 pieces have been introduced this year—advocates say initiatives like Translatable are vital. "We’re seeing a significant increase in unhoused LGBTQ youth because of family rejection," Alexander Roque, executive director of the Ali Forney Center, explained to WSVN. He notes how a boost in anti-LGBTQ legislation correlates with a spike in crisis hotline calls, making support networks like Wade's a beacon of hope.

Dr. Michelle Forcier, a clinician specializing in LGBTQIA+ health services, champions the digital approach of Translatable. Young people are deeply connected to online spaces, making it logical to meet them where they are most comfortable. "The transgender and gender-diverse community does not have the deep pockets... that the anti-transgender and anti-diversity political and advocacy community has," Forcier said to AP News. For someone of Wade's stature to stand for this community could be a game-changer, she believes.

Miami-Community & Society