Out in Sports

NBA ref Che Flores makes history by coming out as trans

NBA referee Che Flores officially became the first figure in professional US major league sports to come out as trans. The nonbinary ref, who uses they/them pronouns, decided it was time to publicly and proudly announce their identity after a 14-year career that saw Flores refereeing over 1,000 NBA games across the globe.

Speaking to GQ, Flores explains that they feel “100% [them]selves” now.

Flores’s long-spanning career reffing games in the NBA, WNBA, and G League made them acutely aware of the need to remain neutral. “There’s something that happens to you when you become a referee,” they told GQ. “You end up just serving the game. No allegiance to anybody.”

But after living as trans for years and existing in the male-dominated space of pro sports referees, Flores saw that the time to come out was now. Citing the uptick in anti-trans legislation and its effect on queer and trans youth, Flores explained that it’s more important than ever to show kids that there’s a bright, happy future waiting for them no matter what.

“I just think of having younger queer kids look at somebody who’s on a high-profile stage and not using it,” Flores told GQ, “and I’m not using the league to an advantage in any way. This is just to let young kids know that we can exist, we can be successful in all different ways. For me, that is most important—to just be a face that somebody can be like, Oh, okay, that person exists. I think I can do that.

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