Transgender bishop files lawsuit alleging he was forced out of office after months of discrimination

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The Rev. Megan Rohrer, who was elected as the first openly transgender bishop of one of the country’s largest Christian denominations in May 2021, has filed a lawsuit alleging that she was expelled from her resignation after suffering months of discrimination and harassment. .

The name, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, declined to comment, according to an email from spokeswoman Candice Buchbinder.

Rohrer, of San Francisco, resigned in June as bishop of the ELCA’s Sierra Pacific Synod amid accusations of racism after he shot the pastor of a predominantly Latino immigrant congregation in Stanton, California, on Our Lady’s Day of Guadalupe, for which the community had planned elaborate ceremonies.

In his lawsuit filed Wednesday in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, Rohrer accuses the agency of discriminating against him for being transgender. and being intentionally inappropriate and creating a “hostile work environment”. He is seeking compensation.

Rohrer, who now works as a senior communications specialist with a non-denominational Black church in San Francisco, said Thursday that he always felt support from Lutherans in the pews, but not from higher echelons than national church. On his first day as bishop, during a video call, Rohrer said he was rude and ridiculed for showing drag queens when ordered.


Rohrer claims in the lawsuit that he was acquitted and “publicly humiliated as a racist”.

“All my life, I have been a friend of racial justice and people from marginalized groups,” he said, adding that he chose to remain silent after being removed from office last year so that the predominantly white body could recognize his shortcomings and pass. racial justice reforms. His lawsuit is not intended to belittle or undermine another body on the margins, Rohrer said.

Bishop Megan Rohrer speaks to the media at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, on Sept. 11, 2021. Rohrer filed a lawsuit on March 1, 2023, alleging half- gender discrimination and a hostile work environment.

Bishop Megan Rohrer speaks to the media at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, on Sept. 11, 2021. Rohrer filed a lawsuit on March 1, 2023, alleging half- gender discrimination and a hostile work environment. (AP Photo/John Hefti, File)

He also accuses the group of retaliating against him for blowing the whistle on such labor violations when he reported to the assembly officials that they were classifying workers as independent contractors to avoid wages, which is a violation of federal and California labor laws. .


“Also, when Rohrer privately disclosed the transsexual harassment he had been suffering since he began his career, the Church terminated him, and accused him of ‘ weaponizing his own identity as a transgender person to ‘avoid accountability,'” says the lawsuit, filed on Rohrer’s behalf by the law firm Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy LLP in Burlingame, California.

In August, Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton, the group’s presiding bishop, issued a public apology at the 2022 Churchwide Synod in Ohio, to members of the Iglesia Luterana Santa Maria Peregrina, describing the events that occurred as “a sharp attack on your dignity. “After the firing of the minister, the congregation lost financial support in her name, and they had to leave the building and their worship in the parking lot.

Rohrer resigned in June and the next day became the target of a church disciplinary process.

“I was pushed out of the church for following the instructions of superiors,” he said. “And cast as a racist in public.”

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He hopes the lawsuit will force the church to follow its own policies to treat LGBTQ people fairly and with respect in the church. Rohrer said he never wanted to pit two fringe groups against each other.

“The church is big enough for everyone,” he said, adding that it is important to acknowledge the church’s “terrible history of racism and discrimination.”

The lawsuit states that in addition to “almost daily hate mail” including death threats as a result of carrying the name, Rohrer, as a result of the firing his, to work as a synod bishop or even as a minister in the name.

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