Megan Rohrer (born April 3, 1980) is an American pastor and activist. Rohrer (who prefers gender-neutral singular they pronouns) is the first openly transgender minister to be ordained by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
Early life and education
Rohrer was born in 1980 in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. In 1998, they graduated from high school and enrolled in Augustana University to study religion. In college they came out as a lesbian, and became president of the Gay-Straight Alliance. They encountered resistance, threats, and attempted "cures" by fellow students for their sexuality. Rohrer graduated from Augustana in 2001.
Rohrer moved to the San Francisco Bay Area in 2002 to continue their studies. By this time they had come to identify as transgender. Rohrer attended Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary and Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, California, earning a Master of Divinity from PSR in 2005 and a Doctor of Ministry in 2016.
Rohrer was ordained in 2006, becoming the first openly transgender person to be ordained by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
In 2010, Rohrer and six other Bay Area gay and transgender pastors were reinstated into the Evangelical Lutheran Church, after the national assembly voted to allow partnered gay people to serve as clergy. The pastors' churches had previously been banned from the denomination for ordaining gay and lesbian ministers who refused to take vows of celibacy.
In 2014, Rohrer was installed as pastor of Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church in San Francisco.
In 2017, Rohrer was hired by the San Francisco Police Department as their first chaplain from the LGBTQ community.
Rohrer has helped the homeless in San Francisco, serving as Executive Director of the Welcome ministry to the homeless and hungry, leading the Singers of the Street choir, distributing sandwiches, and participating in a night ministry with other local pastors. Rohrer has also helped to grow and distribute thousands of pounds of free food from community gardens.
In 2015, Rohrer started a fundraiser to raise bail for Meagan Taylor, a black trans woman who was held in isolation in an Iowa jail.
In the wake of the 2016 Oakland warehouse fire, in which at least three transgender people were killed, Rohrer was called upon by the city of Oakland to provide support and assistance to the community.
Rohrer has advocated for trans people who would be impacted by proposed "bathroom bills" that seek to restrict restroom usage based on sex assigned at birth.
Awards, honors and recognition
- 2012 — "Pastor Megan Rohrer Day" declared on August 12 by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors
- 2014 — Honorable Mention, Unsung Hero of Compassion (awarded by the Dalai Lama)
- 2014 — Award of Merit for Zanderology: Disability 101 (director), International Film Festival for Spirituality, Religion, and Visionary
- 2015 — Distinguished Alumni/ae, Pacific School of Religion
- 2015 — Soldier of Social Change, San Francisco Magazine
- Honorary Doctorate, Palo Alto University
- Lambda Literary Award finalist, transgender nonfiction
Through Grace Lutheran Church and Wilgefortis Press, Rohrer has written a number of books for children in the Good News Children's Book Series.
Adult titles authored or co-authored by Rohrer include: