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Lutheran church makes history with first transgender Latina pastor

Lutheran church makes history with first transgender Latina pastor
© Greg Nash

An evangelical Lutheran pastor in Colorado earlier this month became the first known transgender Latina to serve as a pastor in the U.S.

Nicole Garcia, 60, gave her first sermon at Westview Lutheran Church in Boulder, Colo., in early December.

“Nobody can question my faith, my devotion to Christ, my devotion to the church. That’s why I’m the pastor here,” Garcia told NBC News. “Being trans is secondary.”

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Growing up in a Catholic Latino family in the '60s, Garcia told the network that she always felt like something was off.

“I had never felt comfortable in my own skin," she said. "I had always been chastised for doing the wrong thing."

Continuing, she added: “Everything just felt wrong. I did everything my male cousins would do, but it was just awkward and it didn’t come naturally.”

Garcia left the Catholic Church in her 20s and didn't return to religion until she joined the Lutheran Church in 2003 following a divorce and the start of her transition.

In 2013, Garcia left her job as a corrections officer and enrolled in seminary school. She was ordained in November and gave her first sermon on Dec. 1.

Garcia told NBC that she hopes that her role as a pastor will encourage more LGBTQ+ people and people of color to find faith.

“As a transgender Latina, I bring a breath of fresh air into all the places I walk into,” she told the network.