George Johnson hopes Zaya Wade’s visibility will trigger protections for less-privileged trans folks

Journalist and author, George Johnson’s, work with the LGBTQ community was inspired by his own encounters with prejudice and discrimination as a young, gay, Black kid. At just five-years-old, Johnson’s teeth were knocked out while being jumped by elementary school bullies.

As Johnson grew into maturity, writing became not only an outlet but a weapon against ignorance and hate. Johnson’s award-winning writing is scattered throughout the web on theGrio, Huffpost, Out Magazine, NBC News and more, but his recent work for AfroPunk, “Strong Black Love For A Child That Is ‘Other,’” caught the attention of Dwyane Wade and Gabrielle Union.

In the piece, Johnson explains that in many cases, the first example of rejection a queer child receives is from their own family. Johnson praises Wade and Union’s public support of their trans child as a guiding light for present and future parents of LGBTQ kids. 

“They both messaged me and at first I was shocked because I was like, ‘Oh, they actually read it like, OK, that’s kind of cool.’ And I think it just speaks to the power of social media,’ Johnson told theGrio.


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“But more importantly, them reaching out, let me know that they actually really care. It wasn’t some show they were trying to put on,” he said. 

Johnson acknowledges the socio-economic advantages Zaya has as a trans person, but hopes her visibility will help less privileged trans folk receive the support and love they need.


MIAMI, FLORIDA – APRIL 09: Dwyane Wade #3 of the Miami Heat poses for a photo with his wife, Gabrielle Union, nephew, Dahveon Morris, and children, Kaavia James Union Wade, Zaire Wade, Xavier Wade and Zion Wade after his final career home game at American Airlines Arena on April 09, 2019 in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

I think the most important thing we can take from Zaya being so bold and being so brave to really be the face of something for us is to, when we see it in our own community, start to protect it,” Johnson said. 

In his forthcoming book, All Boys Aren’t Blue, the activist dives into his own familial dynamics that shaped his understanding of his queerness.