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Evangelical Lutheran Church elects first transgender bishop

Exploring gender identification
Exploring gender identification 07:16

The Reverend Megan Rohrer has been elected bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America's Sierra Pacific synod on Saturday – making them the first transgender person to serve as bishop in any major Christian faith in the U.S.

The San Francisco-based bishop has served as pastor of Grace Lutheran Church since 2014, the ELCA said in a press release. Rohrer is also community chaplain coordinator for the San Francisco Police Department. They also served as a community garden coordinator for Project Homeless Connect and has worked to serve the homeless and hungry.

According to Rohrer's website, they are also an award-winning filmmaker, musician and historian.

RNS Transgender Bishop
This April 2021 selfie photo shows the Reverend Megan Rohrer, at the Grace Lutheran Church in San Francisco. Rohrer was elected bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America's Sierra Pacific synod on Saturday, May 8, 2021, becoming the first transgender person to serve as bishop in the denomination or in any of the U.S.' major Christian faiths.  Meghan Rohrer / AP

The bishop-elect has been featured on Netflix series "Queer Eye"and in Cosmo magazine, where they opened up about being raised in a heavily Lutheran community in South Dakota. 

"You can imagine it's not the most fun place to figure out you're trans," they said, adding that faith was a source of love and acceptance, and they decided to pursue religious education. 

"Using faith to tear other people down is not good news," they said in the interview. "We need to all be as loud and as angry as the people who want to declare that there are types of people that God can't love."

Rohrer was elected with 209 votes, beating the Reverend Jeff R. Johnson, who received 207 votes. Rohrer watched the Synod virtually, at home with their children, they shared on Facebook.

In posting about the news, they wrote: "I am proud to serve in this new role."

Rohrer is set to be installed as bishop on September 11 at St. Matthew Lutheran Church in Walnut Creek, California, replacing The Reverend Mark W. Holmerud, who is retiring.

ELCA is one of the largest Christian denominations in the U.S., with nearly 3.3 million members in more than 8,900 worshiping communities, according to the church's website.

"Because God gives us our unity in Christ, we are able to see and respect the diversity within Christ's body," the church says. "We respect and honor the diversity of histories, traditions, cultures, languages and experiences among us in the ELCA and in the larger Christian community of faith."

ELCA is more progressive than some Christian denominations in that it has ordained women in Lutheran Churches for nearly 51 years. The church decided to ordain their first woman of color more than 40 years ago and also decided to ordain people in same-gender committed relationships 10 years ago. 

CBS News has reached out to Rohrer and is awaiting response.

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