Megan Rohrer didn’t want to make history so much as they wanted to show others what is possible.
The 41-year-old was installed as the first transgender bishop in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in a ceremony held earlier this month, making Rohrer also the first trans bishop in any mainstream U.S. faith denomination. The socially distanced event held at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco was attended by more than 600 people in person, with hundreds of others tuning in over Zoom. Rohrer remembers the day as one filled with “lots of smells, bells, and a cello,” along with “dancers with ribbons and lots of fabulous embroidery.”
“Being elected bishop is all the people in your local area wanting you to be a leader, and an installation service like this is all the other leaders also acknowledging that you’re their colleague,” Rohrer tells them. over the phone. “It’s really lovely to have that level of support, especially when you do something historic.”
But Rohrer, who was voted into the role by their colleagues in May, explains that what inspired them to say “yes” to the call was the idea that it could help other transgender people to “imagine full lives that have promise, hope, and maybe faith.” The visibility that comes with leading nearly 200 congregations is rare for a community that often struggles to survive. At least 36 trans Americans, the majority of them women of color, have lost their lives to violence in a year that has seen a record number of anti-trans bills introduced in states across the country.
Being a possibility model “literally saves lives,” Rohrer says, but it also illustrates the multiplicity of spaces that trans people can occupy at a time when those appear increasingly limited.
“With trans people all over the country being debated, kept from using bathrooms, and prevented from accessing medical care, it's more important than ever to be someone who is a living counter narrative to all the things some people have imagined when they think about the worst things trans people can be,” they add.