WALDOBORO — Rachel Genthner of Waldoboro argues it is dangerous to deny who you really are and fight the truth, and she wants to reach out to other people who have struggled with gender identity as she has.

For 40 years, she lived as a male, while feeling she was born in the wrong body. Growing up, she said she was bullied, and she still faces discrimination. Businesses in her own hometown have asked her to leave in the past.

Now, Genthner is reaching out to people any way she can to create a message of inclusion and stand up for her true identity. She drives a 2022 hybrid Jeep that serves as conversation starter. It is detailed with a transgender flag of equality and messages including, “It takes courage to grow up and be who you really are,” and “Trans rights are human rights.”

She also has a YouTube channel in which she engages in open discussions about the issues.

Genthner stresses the danger of gender dysphoria, which can lead to anxiety, depression and health problems. She said over time, the intense conflict caused by trying to deny her true identity almost killed her.

Now that she feels empowered to speak her truth, she said she gets positive comments from people thanking her for standing up.

Challenges remain. Availability of the hormone medications she needs is often limited. She stressed the importance of voting in the upcoming election.

She asks people to be open and inclusive and notes it is hurtful when people call her by her “dead name” – the male name given to her when she was born rather than her chosen name.

Genthner also supports the inclusion of books that deal with transgender issues in school when age-appropriate.

“Do we want to put a child through it?” she said.

Lack of access to gender-affirming care for transgender young people increases risk of substance use and suicide.

“Whose life is this?” she asked. “If you can’t see my soul, you don’t have any right to give me a gender marker.”

Her videos can be found on YouTube by searching for “Trans Lesbian 2000.”

Rachel Genthner of Waldoboro uses her Jeep to send a message of inclusion. Photo by Daniel Dunkle