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Netflix’s ‘Queer Eye’ features San Antonio transgender powerlifter on new season

n the latest season of Queer Eye, the Fab 5 set temporary roots in Austin to meet their new heroes: a honk-tonk dance instructor; a rancher; an entire prom committee; two restaurant owners; a doctor; and a powerlifter, San Antonio’s own Angel Flores. Flores is a 22-year-old transgender trainer and Olympic weightlifting coach who dominates in the gym but needed a spot in building up her confidence.

The Netflix reboot launched its Austin season on New Year’s Eve after postponing the series for months due to the pandemic. The show stars the Fab 5 – Jonathan Van Ness, Bobby Berk, Karamo Brown, Antoni Porowski, and Tan France – with each bringing their own skill set to makeover, support, and provide guidance into the lives of their heroes.

Flores tells MySA feeling confident in the gym was easy but she grew extremely self-conscious when outside the walls of  the Liberation Barbell Club – the queer-owned, Austin-based gym featured on the show. In the episode, the Antonian College Preparatory High School graduate highlights her transition and how she began hormone replacement therapy in July 2020 at 20.

Throughout her episode, Flores begins to feel more comfortable in her skin with the help of the Fab 5. France takes shopping, Bobby gives her home a makeover, Antoni brings her mom on the show to cook up a dish together, and JVN provides the self-care knowledge for skin, hair, and makeup. The most emotional part for viewers was when Karamo helps Flores reconnect with her father – someone she hadn’t talked to since starting her transition.

“My relationship with my father has improved tenfold,” Flores says. “We’ve been keeping in touch, and he’s come to every single holiday. We’ve been very receptive to each other and open with each other. He’s done an amazing job at education himself and trying his hardest.”

Growing up, Flores says her father put her in nearly every sport. However, football was the one where Flores shined. When Flores began studying at the University of Texas at Austin, that’s where she fell in love with athletics. She graduated with a bachelor’s in kinesiology with a concentration in coaching.

Angel Flores grew up in sports but started realizing athletics and powerlifting was her passion when she started her college career.

As a trans athlete, Flores says she can’t compete at the USA weightlifting championships but does in the USA Powerlifting MX Category, a powerlifting competition that features a category of trans people. The new category was launched in January 2021. She currently holds the state deadlift record — a whopping 402 pounds.

“That’s my number one desire in the entire world,” Flores says. “Not because I have some easy chance of winning, but because I don’t. Because I have to work for it, and I have to train for it.”

One of the biggest obstacles Flores faces as a trans athlete is educating those who don’t understand what happens to the body when someone transitions, such as losing muscle mass and bone density. Flores notes she has dropped a shoe size and her hands have shrunk.

“All these things bring us more in line with the cisgender athlete, and I would argue that once we undergo a year and a half to two years of transition, we’ve reached that level of basically being matched up with our cisgender peers,” Flores says. “So to be at competitions with people who don’t understand that and to hear people whispering things behind my back, it’s a challenge. However, it’s the sport that saves me.”

This post originally appeared in MySanAntonio

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