Career Opportunities

Hey everyone!

This week I had a meeting with my career adviser about how I would approach my trans status with prospective employers. Interestingly enough, my adviser has a trans nephew and is very supportive of the trans community. He has worked with a non-binary person before and has his nephew’s experience, so he was asking me questions about where I fall on the spectrum. The questions were probably unnecessarily specific in hindsight. I hadn’t really been asked questions like that before, and I wasn’t really prepared for that. I think I gave adequate answers as far as what he needs to know for job purposes. I was a little uncomfortable, but he was asking based on his experience with a non-binary person and to help me best present myself to prospective employers.

I guess I have a lot of learning to do. I need to learn more about myself and how to verbalize those feelings. I also need to be better about saying that I don’t want to or have answer a question. While I have mixed feelings about Caitlyn Jenner, she did say something that really resonated with me. I didn’t get to watch all of the Diane Sawyer interview, but Caitlyn said something about looking forward to getting to know Caitlyn. I really get that. I spent many years trying to push down certain thoughts and feelings. I imagine that it will take me a while to regain my true self.

I just have to remember the little kid who pitched a kicking, screaming, and crying fit at the sight of a newly redone pink gingham bathroom and got a blue gingham bathroom the very next day. I hope to get that same fight for myself back.

All the best,

Harris

Some Pride in Athens

Hey everyone!

Today’s post will be shorter than most, basically because I have a lot of work to do for school. I did, however, want to give a short post about being at Athens Pride last Sunday.

So I was at Athens Pride festival working the booth for the LGBTQ Caucus for the Democratic Party of Georgia. The Young Democrats of UGA joined us for the event. (Thanks!) I was a little disappointed about the lack of turnout for the festival. I think that there is a sizable crowd of LGBTQ people and allies in the Athens area, so I’m not sure why more people weren’t there.

Regardless, I had the opportunity to walk around and see some of the other booths. I stopped by the Health Initiative booth and got some good information about financial help that I could receive to offset some medical costs relating to my transition. It isn’t a whole lot of money, but it will definitely help with the cost of a therapist. If you didn’t know, the most recommended/most safe way to get hormone replacement therapy (HRT), which for me is testosterone, is to see a therapist to get a letter that approves me for testosterone prescribed by an endocrinologist. The therapy process for this can take a few months, but once I get the letter, I can then take it to an endocrinologist to start testosterone.

Just for some perspective, not every trans person wants to have HRT. It can be a very personal thing for trans people. Some people choose to not undertake HRT for various reasons and others do not have the financial means to start HRT. Whether by choice or necessity, a person who doesn’t do HRT is not “less trans” than someone who does. Transition can mean a lot of different things. For me, testosterone is something that I want to start in the future, likely next summer, so I am thankful that there are resources like the Health Initiative in Atlanta that can help.

If you need information about the Health Initiative in Atlanta, then please go to their page online. If you want to know more about what I specifically found out about financial and medical resources for trans people send me a message or leave a comment.

All the best,

Harris

What’s in a name? Everything

Hello everyone!

Another week of law school has gone by. I’ve officially finished my first month! It’s been pretty rough, but at the same time I really do enjoy it.

Today I want to talk about my name. As many of you know, a lot of trans people choose to change their name to something other than their birth name. I’ve found that often times trans people have their name chosen as soon as they come out. On the other hand, some people go through a trial and error process to find a name that suits them. I was closer to the first group in my naming process. I pretty much knew that I wanted to be called Harris.

Harris is a family name. When my mom was pregnant with me, if I was a “boy” (surprise! hehe) I was going to be called Benjamin after my mom’s grandfather. The same grandfather and his wife, my great-grandparents, helped raise my mom. I didn’t really see myself as a Ben, so I took their last name, Harris.

My great-grandfather went to North Georgia College, which is how my mom knew about Young Harris college, where I completed my undergraduate degree. B.R. Harris was known for his dry sense of humor, which likely came from his mother, Hazel Harris. Hazel was quite a pistol. She owned the “Dixie Cafe” in downtown Ringgold. If you stuck around too long and took up one of her tables, you would be asked to pay up and get out. My great-grandmother, Mary Francis was a state champion basketball player…all 5’2 of her. I remember being about four years old and going down to the basement with my “Bar” to get a popsicle before lunch. We thought that we were being sneaky, but as soon as we went back upstairs “Baba” told us to stick out our tongues. Needless to say we were busted. Not too much got past Baba.

I’m sure that people think that I got Harris from Young Harris, my undergraduate institution, but not really. However, I don’t really mind that people think that. Young Harris is a special place with special people. I can’t wait to see how Young Harris continues to grow.

My little sister’s nickname is Ray-Ray. I chose Rae as my middle name after her. She’s come a long way from the snot-nosed little brat that she was! haha I’m really proud of the young woman that she has become.

Just as a general point of awareness, please don’t ask me or any other trans person what name they were given at birth. Asking for my birth or legal name insinuates that I am not who I say I am. This could not be further from the truth. On the other hand, if you know my legal name, please do not refer to me by that name. If you call me anything other than Harris, what I hear is “I don’t care enough about you to respect your wishes,” or “It isn’t a big deal.” Well it is to me and all trans people that you disrespect by not calling them what they prefer to be called.

Hope everyone has a great and productive week!

All the best,

Harris

Digging Deep & Reaching Out

Hello everyone!

I hope that everyone has had a good week! I got to go to my first UGA football game as a student yesterday and had a lot of fun.

Originally I had a different topic for my first substantive blog post, but I became aware of an opportunity to write about something that deeply affects the trans community and wanted to give my thoughts on it. You see, today marks the first day of national suicide prevention week. Sadly, too many trans people are faced with adversities that lead them to feel like they have nowhere to turn. A national survey conducted by the National Center for Transgender Equality found that in 2011, 41% of trans people had at some point in their lives attempted suicide.

The reasons vary as to why there is such a high rate of attempted suicide in the trans community. Discrimination in education, housing, employment, and in medical treatment are likely factors influencing the high rate of depression and suicide. Lack of acceptance from friends and family also are factors that deeply influence the daily struggles of trans people.

So what does this mean? Well on a societal level, it means that we have a lot of work to do. Trans people are in desperate need of legislation that protects us from discrimination. I urge everyone to contact their representatives about supporting the Equality Act (H.R. 3185) that would amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to include sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity as protected classes. It also means that trans people and allies need to speak up when they see and experience instances of discrimination.

On a more personal level, it’s scary; I’m not going to lie. Everyone knows that it’s not easy to be a trans person in today’s world, but what everyone doesn’t know is how lonely it can be at times. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the magnitude of everything going on in my life. As a trans law student, I have to think about not only the high rate of depression and suicide for the trans community but also the legal community. Lawyers deal with high rates of depression, and as result suicide is becoming a serious concern for the legal community. As part of orientation, UGA Law had a segment dedicated to mental health, which gave information on not only taking care of yourself but also looking out for fellow classmates. I am lucky to have a good group of friends and family that I know that I can lean on when times get tough. I am also trying to make time for things that I enjoy outside of law school, like playing golf and working out. I haven’t been that successful as of yet, but I expect to get more efficient with my schoolwork so I have that extra time.

I hope that everyone has a good and healthy week. If you are struggling with depression or thoughts of suicide, please reach out to someone. If you don’t feel like you can talk to someone who you know, please call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline telephone number; it is 1(800) 273-8255.

All of my best,

Harris