NBA referee #91 Che Flores made sports history by coming out the closet as a nonbinary transgender referee in a new interview released by GQ. Flores, who is going into a second season as an NBA referee, opened up about a journey of self-discovery and hopes to inspire other transgender people.
In the interview, Flores who uses the pronoun “they”, described how people mislabeling her using the pronouns “she/her” caused emotional damage. Che said every time someone referred to her as a woman, it felt like a “jab in the gut”. Che conveyed that the label of a woman doesn’t fit, but rather a biological female who feels more comfortable as a nonbinary male.
Flores decided to come out publicly after realizing that hiding her identity was affecting her mental health and performance on the court. Che wanted to be authentic and honest with inner self, and was tired of living in fear and hiding. During the interview Flores explained the coming out the closet allows being more comfortable during her work hours.
According to a report from the NBA, many of Flores’ colleagues were already aware that she secretly identified as a nonbinary transgender male person, and they supported her decision to come out. Some knew for months, while other found out during the preseason. The NBA also issued a statement praising Flores for courage and professionalism, and reaffirming its commitment to diversity and inclusion.
Many people might remember Che Flores as the referee that ejected Grant Williams for bumping.
In addition to NBA games, Flores has also refereed games in the G-League and WNBA. Based on the interview, Che hopes that coming out the closet will inspire other transgender people who are struggling with their identity, or facing challenges in their lives. Che hopes that she can be example of how anyone can be what they want to be in life no matter how they truly identify gender wise.