SAN ANTONIO – A military training instructor at Joint Base San Antonio Lackland not only serves our country by training the best in the United States Air Force, but also by serving as a beacon of hope and inspiration to many.
Brandon Rodriguez is a military training instructor for the 321st Training Squadron and has been serving for over a decade.
“I just hit 15 years last month. Ironically enough when I picked up this current flight that I have, it was a day off, and I joined June 13, 2007 and I picked them up June 14 of 2022,” Rodriguez said.
Serving as a military training instructor has been a life-long goal.
“This is something that I’ve been fighting for, and for about six years and I finally, finally got here so this means a lot to me,” Rodriguez said.
A San Antonio native, Brandon was born Brandi Rodriguez as part of an old school, traditional, loving Catholic family as the youngest of five.
“However, as a child, I did feel different. I knew that I was not who I was. I was born as a female, so making that determination as a very young child put me in a mental space that wasn’t conducive to a childhood life,” said Rodriguez.
As a teenager, he first came out to his family as a lesbian, but Rodriguez still did not know how to describe or explain why he still was not feeling comfortable in his own skin.
I was about 26, when I learned what the term transgender was, so, I had no idea. So all the way up till I was 26-years-old still thought I was probably the only individual that was thinking the way I did,” Rodriguez said.
He says as a child, not having a mentor or someone to help navigate the endless journey of emotions he was experiencing was the most difficult time of his life. He had no other choice but to rely on his own strength and resiliency to survive.
“Having somebody support me and tell me it’s going to be better, everything is going to be just fine, not know that for so long was probably the most stressful, the most hurtful thing as a child. And it’s not anybody’s fault it was just the time we were living in,” Rodriguez said.
He started his transition in May of 2017 and said the biggest difference between Brandi and Brandon is his drastically improved mental health. He said he now knows what confidence feels like.
Having found myself and knowing this is who I want to be, this is who I am and I’ve been searching for this person for a long time,” Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez has counted endless support at the 321st Training Squadron and says at the end of the day his heart, his passion and his work ethic speaks for itself.
“All they see is a military training instructor and that he and she is creating the future of the Air Force, so when I am doing my job nobody can tell and nobody really cares, and you do your job, and can you do it well,” Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez says the military has made significant strides in the right direction when it comes to LGBTQ service and though he identifies as a man, it’s important the world knows he is transgender in an effort of inspiring others with a similar journey.