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, gregstacy.wordpress.com/2006/11/25/interview-with-the-hermaphrodite-the-many-faces-of-lynn-harris
"Born True Hermaphrodite - Pictorial Profile," Angelfire, www.angelfire.com/ca2/BornHermaphrodite