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

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