It’s safe to say everyone who competes on The Titan Games is inspiring, but there’s one athlete on Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s fitness competition show who recently earned a special shout from DJ.
Mitch Harrison is a 31-year-old security guard and former college basketball star from Kenai, Alaska. He’s also transgender, and his appearance on The Titan Games marked his first opportunity to come out as a trans athlete.
Raised in what he describes in his Titan Games intro as a “very, very conservative” family, Harrison says he struggled with the decision to transition: “Choosing the gender transition would have helped me be happier, but I knew that it was going to create a lot of conflict, a lot of turmoil.” The turning point, he said, was finding a supportive partner in his wife, who encouraged him to do it. “Most of immediate family does not speak to me,” Harrison said. “They’re missing out on such a better version of me than they ever knew.”
When he introduced Harrison’s showdown against Exodus Rogers in the “Over the Edge” challenge, The Rock talked about the impact Harrison would have on viewers: “Mitch, man, you are breaking barriers and showing people how to live their truth.”
Harrison lost the challenge, but he didn’t lose DJ’s respect.
“I wanted to make you more proud than that,” a disappointed Harrison told The Rock after the challenge.
“No, no, no, no. I’m proud,” The Rock replied. “I’m proud.”
After the episode aired, The Rock followed up with an Instagram post praising Harrison for paving the way to a better future.
“All I can do is tell @theiron_wolf, Mitch Harrison the truth – I’m proud,” he wrote. “Here’s a snapshot of what the world could and should be one day. Embracing, supporting and loving of all people. Good people just trying to live a good life and be the best versions of themselves they can be. Mitch, thank you for your efforts and especially, your trust. You epitomize a philosophy I try to live by daily, which is – the most powerful thing we can be is ourselves. Chin up, always. Love & respect – DJ.”
In an emotional Instagram post of his own, Harrison talked about how much it meant to him not just to compete on the show, but also to have his idol—The Rock—look at him and say, “I’m proud.”
Man…where do I even start? Just, wow. I must be dreaming…
When I look back on my life up to this point, I think about all the time I spent wanting to make the people around me proud. It always meant just as much to do it for them as I wanted to do it for myself. For years, based on certain expectations that were placed on me, I felt like all I ever did was let those people down. Then one day during a time of feeling utterly alone, I realized that the only person who’s approval mattered, was my own. My whole life changed from then on out for the better. But, I couldn’t shake the feeling of wanting to hear…