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Finding aid to the Lynn Edward Harris papers, 1917-2009 Coll2012.137
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Biography
  • Conditions Governing Access
  • Conditions Governing Use
  • Acquisition Information
  • Preferred Citation
  • Processing Information
  • Scope and Content
  • Arrangement
  • Separated Materials

  • Title: Lynn Edward Harris papers
    Identifier/Call Number: Coll2012.137
    Contributing Institution: ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives, USC Libraries, University of Southern California
    Language of Material: English
    Physical Description: 7.3 linear feet. 3 archive boxes + 2 archive binder boxes + 2 archive cartons + 2 archive shoeboxes + 1 oversize flat box.
    Date (bulk): Bulk, 1965-2000
    Date (inclusive): 1917-2009
    Abstract: Photographs, legal documents, manuscripts, personal and business correspondence, lecture notes, videotapes, audiotapes, clippings, scrapbooks, floppy disks, memorabilia and other material from actor, lecturer and intersex person, Lynn Edward Harris (1950- ). Born intersexed, Harris was raised female despite being born with ambiguous genitalia. The collection documents Harris throughout his life, including his transition to living publicly as male, and the subsequent public speaking engagements and legal challenge to the California Court's refusal to allow him to legally change gender.
    creator: Harris, Lynn Edward, 1950-


    Lynn Elizabeth Harris was born in the City of Orange, California on September 13, 1950. Harris was born with ambiguous genitalia and is what is today referred to as intersex, or in more dated terms, "hermaphrodite." Harris was identified as female in a birth certificate, and was subsequently raised female without medical intervention. Through puberty, Harris did not menstruate, grew facial hair and had an altered voice; but continued to present as female. Harris wore women's clothing and a padded bra to appear more feminine, and went on to compete in and win local beauty pageants, including Costa Mesa Junior Miss in 1968. Upon graduation, Harris left to be an actress and model in Los Angeles. Harris also worked in retail beauty sales, office work, and later occasionally with prostitution.
    In 1973, Harris began undergoing tests and exploratory surgeries. A team of doctors diagnosed Harris with Stein-Leventhal Syndrome or Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS). Although doctors informed Harris that physical features would further masculinize over time, Harris reacted by increasing efforts at feminization.
    Six years after the diagnosis, and after counseling, Harris decided to begin living as a male. He bought male clothes, let facial hair grow, and changed his middle name from Elizabeth to Edward. Four years later, he applied to have his birth certificate re-issued after having difficulty using his female California-issued identification card. The petition was initially rejected because of a lack of supporting medical evidence. However Harris persisted and eventually the court allowed him to have his birth certificate re-issued and to have his name legally changed. As such, Harris' case is a legal precedent for those wanting to change their legal sex without surgery. After his legal battle Harris became a spokesperson for intersex rights, gave lectures, and appeared frequently on national television and radio programs.
    By 2008, Harris was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig's disease.
    Box 2, Folder 7, Lynn Edward Harris Papers, Coll2012-137, ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives, USC Libraries, University of Southern California
    "Interview With the Hermaphrodite: The many faces of Lynn Harris," OC Weekly, October 7, 1999,
    "Born True Hermaphrodite - Pictorial Profile," Angelfire,

    Conditions Governing Access

    The collection is open to researchers. There are no access restrictions.

    Conditions Governing Use

    All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the ONE Archivist. Permission for publication is given on behalf of ONE National Gay and Lesbian Archives at USC Libraries as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained.

    Acquisition Information

    A portion of the collection was donated directly by Harris, 2008. The remainder of the collection was forwarded from the West Hollywood Library, where Harris had sent it in 2008.

    Preferred Citation

    [Box/folder #, or item name] Lynn Edward Harris Papers, Coll2012-137, ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives, USC Libraries, University of Southern California

    Processing Information

    Collection processed by Joseph R. Hawkins, December 2012.

    Scope and Content

    This collection comprises photographs, legal documents, manuscripts, personal and business correspondence, lecture notes, videotapes, audiotapes, clippings, scrapbooks, floppy disks, memorabilia and other materials from actor, lecturer, and intersex person Lynn Edward Harris (1950- ). The bulk of this collection is related to Harris' personal life and the complications related to his intersex status, as well as his career as an actor, talk show spokesperson, and amateur writer.
    The Personal Materials Series consists of Harris' resumes and work portfolios, vital records and legal documents, scrapbooks, school report cards and yearbooks, personal correspondence, clippings, medical records and other personal material. The Writings series consists of Harris' manuscripts and related material--including, notably, multiple versions of Harris' autobiographies such as "I, the Hermaphrodite," and "More Lives Than One." The Lectures, Articles and Research on Intersex Issues Series consists of materials related to Harris' public speaking engagements and lecture "A Path of Androgyny," as well as many journal articles and books of which Harris was the co-writer or subject of research. The Photographs Series consists of hundreds of photographs of Harris throughout his life, from his childhood years raised as female, through his later years when he began living publicly as male. The Audiocassettes and Videocassettes Series contains VHS tapes of Harris' various talk show appearances and audiocassettes of Harris' interviews and lectures. The Trophies and Memorabilia Series comprises awards Harris received in speech contests and pageants such as Costa Mesa Junior Miss Pageant; as well as other memorabilia, including buttons, ribbons, a sash, and an inscribed silver cup.


    This collection is arranged in the following series:
    Series 1. Personal material
    Series 2. Writings
    Series 3. Lectures, articles and research material on intersex and transgender issues
    Series 4. Photographs
    Series 5. Audiocassettes and videocassettes
    Series 6. Trophies and memorabilia

    Separated Materials

    The following periodicals have been separated from the collection and placed in the ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives' Periodicals Collection:
    Boy's Own, 1998-2003 (6 issues)
    GenderFlex, Vol. IV, Issue 23 (1994)
    "Guidelines for Transsexuals," Erickson Educational Foundation, September 1976
    Hermaphrodites with Attitude, Intersex Society of North America newsletters, 1994-1999
    The ICTLEP Reporter, the newsletter of the International Conference on Transgender Law and Employment Policy, Inc., November 1995-January 1996
    ONE Magazine, March 1959
    Our Sorority, An Outreach Publication, Issue 16 (September 1987)
    Outreach Beacon, Spring 1987 and Spring-Summer 1988
    Renaissance, Volume IV, No. 3 (October 1979)

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Gender identity
    Intersex people
    Intersex people--Identity
    Transgender people