Flores told GQ it was essential to openly represent because of the impact being out had on others.
“One piece I was missing for myself was that no one knew how I identified,” the basketball expert explained. “Being misgendered as she/her always just felt like a little jab in the gut. I can go through the world and even my job a lot more comfortably. I just think of having younger queer kids look at somebody who’s on a high-profile stage and not using it. 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.”
Flores is the first non-binary trans official in the NBA and any major American professional sport.
They started refereeing high school games at their father’s request following graduation from Cal State Northridge. At first, Flores balked at being a referee but decided to try it.
Flores told GQ, “Once I was on the court, I fell in love with it.”
Eventually, they would make their way to the Wubble (the bubble for WNBA players at IMG Academy in Florida), where they made connections that got them into summer referee camps. Flores told GQ their impression of the camps, “We would come in, and then every referee would assess every other referee, and we would all decide collectively who would move on and who would literally get voted off the island. It was like Survivor with referees.”
The league will also look to Flores as the standard bearer for the NBA and how it will address any security concerns that may come up.
Monty McCutchen, the NBA’s Head of Referee Training and Development, told GQ, “To some degree, we’re going to have to grow in this area together. Che will have to be the communicator to let us know when and where they are feeling these kinds of issues.”
The referee, who has a 14-year career history, worked championship games at all levels, from the women’s NCAA National Championship to the G-League Finals to the WNBA Finals.
Source: Black Enterprise