Nicole Garcia on her way to being ELCA's first transgender clergy person of color: People

A self-professed church nerd, Nicole Garcia says she was “a good Catholic boy” in her teens. Today, she is a candidate for ordination in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and on her way to being the denomination’s first transgender clergy person of color.

Mainline denominations are shifting in acceptance of transgender leaders. The Episcopal Church in 2012 passed resolutions protecting its lay and ordained employees from discrimination on the basis of gender identity. Last year, the ELCA welcomed its first openly transgender clergy person, Megan Rohrer, pastor of Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church in San Francisco.

Garcia tried for years to lose herself in alcohol and then sought to be “macho” with a career in law enforcement. Finally, she connected with the Gender Identity Center of Colorado.