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Translatable: Dwyane Wade Champions Transgender Youth in New Online Community

MIAMI BEACH, Fla. -- Returning to the heart of South Florida, NBA legend Dwyane Wade reignited a different kind of battle on Thursday. With over 14 seasons donning the Miami Heat jersey, clinching three NBA championships, and etching Miami-Dade County into history as "Wade County," his legacy stands tall. Yet, amidst accolades and records, the fight he declared at The Elevate Prize Foundation’s Make Good Famous Summit, following his receipt of the nonprofit’s Elevate Prize Catalyst Award, holds the deepest personal resonance.

Speaking to The Associated Press before the ceremony, Wade reflected, “We've achieved so much here, so it was a tough decision to leave. But when the community didn’t stand by Zaya, they weren’t standing by us.” Zaya, Wade's 17-year-old daughter, bravely came out as transgender in 2020 amid a wave of anti-trans legislation sweeping through Florida and beyond, prompting many trans individuals to seek refuge elsewhere. Consequently, the Wade family bid farewell to their Florida residence last year, relocating to California.

In a poignant moment during his acceptance speech, Wade shared the spotlight with Zaya, acknowledging her pivotal role in inspiring the birth of Translatable, a groundbreaking online platform crafted to nurture transgender youth and their families. Recounting the genesis of the initiative, Wade revealed, “When asked what change she wished to see in our community, Zaya’s answer was directed at the parents, at us. She envisioned a haven where both kids and parents could find solace. That’s what Translatable represents—it’s her vision, her passion project.”

With the support of the Wade Family Foundation, Translatable aims to foster a nurturing environment conducive to growth, mental well-being, and understanding. Wade expressed his gratitude for the $250,000 unrestricted funding accompanying The Elevate Prize Catalyst Award, earmarked for Translatable's endeavors. Further bolstering this endeavor, the Elevate Prize Foundation, in solidarity with Wade's mission, extended a separate contribution to Translatable, in collaboration with the Human Rights Campaign and The Trevor Project.

In championing Translatable, Dwyane Wade continues to transcend the boundaries of the basketball court, weaving a legacy of empathy, acceptance, and advocacy for the marginalized.

Dwyane Wade epitomizes the ethos of our foundation," remarked Jayaram to the AP. "He transcends the realm of sports, embodying heroism and social justice advocacy, a journey that began early in his NBA career, often overlooked by many.

Jayaram underscored Wade's empowerment upon Zaya's announcement of her transgender identity in 2020, describing it as profoundly inspiring and a catalyst for their involvement. The Elevate Prize Catalyst Award, bestowed upon luminaries such as actors Matt Damon and Michael J. Fox and Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai, empowers recipients to leverage the foundation's resources and networks to galvanize additional support for their philanthropic endeavors.

For Wade, championing transgender rights seamlessly aligns with his role as a parent, drawing on the profound insights gleaned from heartfelt conversations with Zaya. Despite acknowledging the prevailing attitudes in Florida, Wade emphasized the importance of fostering understanding through engagement, combating ignorance with empathy.

Jayaram lauded Wade's decision to launch Translatable in Florida, a state where exclusionary sentiments may prevail. She emphasized his commitment as a parent and lauded his dedication to building bridges of understanding.

Comedian and "Everything's Trash" actress Phoebe Robinson commended Wade's outspokenness on a myriad of issues, praising his prioritization of humanity over profit margins. She highlighted the significance of fostering connection and community to safeguard individuals and nurture collective growth.

Alexander Roque, executive director of the Ali Forney Center, emphasized the timeliness of Translatable's launch amid a backdrop of heightened legislative threats against LGBTQ+ rights. With over 500 anti-LGBTQ bills introduced this year, Translatable emerges as a beacon of support for transgender youth navigating an increasingly hostile landscape.

Not all bills evolve into law, but each one is an expression of hate with profound repercussions for our youth," he stated solemnly. "It's a grim reality: every time an anti-LGBTQ bill garners media attention, we witness a staggering 400% surge in calls to suicide hotlines from young people. Moreover, the rising number of unhoused LGBTQ youth due to family rejection paints a harrowing picture. Having a figure of Dwyane Wade's stature deeply invested in our community signals a pivotal shift, perhaps one of the most hopeful moments amidst this tumultuous tide.

Dr. Michelle Forcier, a clinician at FOLX Health, emphasized the importance of creating tailored support systems for transgender youth, highlighting the efficacy of online communities in meeting their unique needs. "Youth today thrive in electronic and online spaces for communication, socialization, and community building," she noted. "Aligning support mechanisms with their preferred modes of interaction is paramount in fostering a sense of belonging.

Forcier underscored the added significance of such initiatives spearheaded by celebrity allies, noting the resource disparities between the transgender community and its adversaries. "The transgender and gender-diverse community lacks the extensive resources — financial, political, and media platforms — wielded by anti-transgender factions," she lamented. "Having a champion like Dwyane Wade advocating for some of our most vulnerable members — transgender and gender-diverse youth and their families — is not only heroic but has the potential to reshape the entire landscape.

Associated Press coverage of philanthropy and nonprofits is made possible through the AP’s partnership with The Conversation US, supported by funding from Lilly Endowment Inc. The AP bears sole responsibility for the content produced. For comprehensive coverage of philanthropic endeavors by the AP, please visit: https://apnews.com/hub/philanthropy.

Not all bills evolve into law, but each one is an expression of hate with profound repercussions for our youth," he stated solemnly. "It's a grim reality: every time an anti-LGBTQ bill garners media attention, we witness a staggering 400% surge in calls to suicide hotlines from young people. Moreover, the rising number of unhoused LGBTQ youth due to family rejection paints a harrowing picture. Having a figure of Dwyane Wade's stature deeply invested in our community signals a pivotal shift, perhaps one of the most hopeful moments amidst this tumultuous tide.

Dr. Michelle Forcier, a clinician at FOLX Health, emphasized the importance of creating tailored support systems for transgender youth, highlighting the efficacy of online communities in meeting their unique needs. "Youth today thrive in electronic and online spaces for communication, socialization, and community building," she noted. "Aligning support mechanisms with their preferred modes of interaction is paramount in fostering a sense of belonging.

Forcier underscored the added significance of such initiatives spearheaded by celebrity allies, noting the resource disparities between the transgender community and its adversaries. "The transgender and gender-diverse community lacks the extensive resources — financial, political, and media platforms — wielded by anti-transgender factions," she lamented. "Having a champion like Dwyane Wade advocating for some of our most vulnerable members — transgender and gender-diverse youth and their families — is not only heroic but has the potential to reshape the entire landscape.

Associated Press coverage of philanthropy and nonprofits is made possible through the AP’s partnership with The Conversation US, supported by funding from Lilly Endowment Inc. The AP bears sole responsibility for the content produced. For comprehensive coverage of philanthropic endeavors by the AP, please visit: https://apnews.com/hub/philanthropy.