Che Flores Becomes NBA’s First Nonbinary, Trans Referee

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 12: An NBA logo is shown at the 5th Avenue NBA store on March 12, 2020 in New York City. The National Basketball Association said they would suspend all games after player Rudy Gobert of the Utah Jazz reportedly tested positive for the Coronavirus (COVID-19). (Photo by Jeenah Moon/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jeenah Moon/Getty Images)

OAN’s James Meyers
11:25 AM – Tuesday, October 24, 2023

The NBA will officially have their first nonbinary, transgender referee when the season tips off. 


NBA referee Che Flores was highlighted in a new GQ article on Monday where she discussed opening up to fellow officials at the NBA referees’ annual preseason meetings in Brooklyn, New York, last month. 

“One piece I was missing for myself was that no one knew how I identified,” Flores told the outlet. “Being misgendered as she/her always just felt like a little jab in the gut.”

According to the National Basketball Referees Association, Flores first started in the NBA as a non-staff official during the 2021-2022 season. The referee has officiated 10 seasons so far in the WNBA and almost 10 years in the G League, the minor league organization of the National Basketball Association.

Additionally, Flores officiated for 13 years in the NCAA, including the 2021 NCAA Women’s National Championship Game and the Women’s Final Four in 2019.

“When I started refereeing, you had to look a certain way,” Flores recalled in the interview. “This is the first time I’m comfortable expressing myself through my own fashion and not having to worry about it. I feel one hundred percent myself now.”

Some NBA executives have reportedly known for several months how Flores identifies in terms of gender. 

The official said that the decision to open up is motivated by “something bigger.”

“I just think of having younger queer kids look at somebody who’s on a high-profile stage and not using it,” Flores said in the interview.

“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.”

The NBA season begins on Tuesday with the Denver Nuggets, the defending champions, hosting the Los Angeles Lakers.

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