Living My Truth: BV senior expresses himself through original song

By: 
Jill Meier, Journal Editor

Jill Meier/BV Journal

Brendon Sheppard performed an original song, "Living My Truth" at the BVHS Choir Variety Show earlier this year. The 2022 BV senior says he felt at ease following the performance and received many kind compliments from his peers.

Until now, Brendon Sheppard didn’t view himself in the way that he wanted to see himself.

You see, Brendon was born Brianna Sheppard.

I always felt like I was kind of ‘weird,’ like ‘an alien,’” says the 2022 Brandon Valley High School senior. 

He says there were signs. Even as a youngster.

“I played with (Barbie) dolls a little bit, but when I got my first Ken doll, that’s when it really hit me, like I like playing with Ken dolls and blocks and cars a lot more than I did with the girl dolls.”

At 11, Brendon wanted to cut his hair really short.

“But everybody said it was too masculine and it didn’t look good, so I started putting barrettes and headbands in my hair, and people said it looked better.”

Still, Brendon didn’t seem himself as “Brianna.”

That was four years ago. It was then that he made the decision to cut his hair short again and began exploring his gender identity.

“I kind of had that mindset where everything leading up to that point wasn’t really who I saw myself as, just rather what everybody else told me to do. Like dress this way. Act this way. You need to be prettier. You need to be thin. Stuff like that. I never really saw myself that way, so four years ago is when I started exploring my gender identity,” he shares.

Brendon first tried out non-binary pronouns, which are ‘They’ and ‘Them’ instead of ‘He/Him or She/Her.’ I did that for a few months, and I was like there was still something missing, so I tried out some ‘He/Him’ pronouns and that seemed to really fit. It made me a lot happier being addressed as a guy instead of a girl. I was looking around at some different names, and I actually looked up a baby name site, and I typed in ‘cool names for guys.’ Brendon was one of them, so I started going by that.”

Earlier this year, Brendon shared his new identity in an original song, “Living My Truth,” at the BVHS Choir Variety Show. It was his first public performance since learning to play the guitar in recent months. He’d been working on the lyrics for about a year, which he said started with the chorus.

I have known all my life

that I was meant to fight

Hoping, praying that I could be the boy that I wanna be

And it’s not a phase

To finally know my name

So here I am standing strong

Living my truth

“Even when I was younger, I prayed that if I were a boy, things would be so much easier. I remember going to bed every night praying that I would wake up as a boy,” he said. “Last Christmas, I got a guitar and I started thinking, ‘What if I put it all together and actually make something of it?’ Then, the talent show came around and I was like, this would be a really cool way to express myself and kind of put myself out there in the school.”

Before taking the stage that night, Brendon remembers the nervous feelings he was experiencing. 

“I was sweating so bad,” he said.

As he walked off the stage that night, Brendon said he was smiling ear to ear.

“I was still shaking and sweating, but everybody came up to me and said I did such a good job. They started calling me by my preferred name and I got those butterflies and everything felt right,” he said.

Brendon said his friends and peers at BVHS have accepted his new identity.

Although legality won’t allow his diploma to read “Brendon Sheppard,” at his request, he will be donning a black gown for Sunday’s commencement and will be called up on stage by his preferred name. 

While friends and classmates have accepted his change, he says some members of his family are “on the fence” but “are getting there.”

“My siblings are actually very supportive. My little brother, I remember coming out into the living room and saying, ‘Guys, I’m a guy.’ My younger brother said, ‘I have another brother!’ and ‘That’s so cool,! and then he started jumping up and down, he was so excited about it.”

Not yet 18, Brendon said he plans to visit with doctors about transitioning his body from female to male. He also plans to legally change his name.

In the meantime, Brendon will continue to work for Sunshine Foods and sell his drawings to save for the personal changes he intends to make. He envisions himself having a longer face, “not as chubby,” he said. “I imagine having a 5 o’clock shadow and shaved hair. A couple years from now, I’m saving up to get top surgery so I can remove my breast tissue, and when I look in the mirror, I imagine that it’s just flat.”

In recent months, Brendon started the All Students Welcome club at BVHS. It’s grown to a “membership” of about a dozen students. 

“It’s not just transgender people. It’s people of color, people who are gay, bi, lesbian, anybody who wants to come is welcome,” he said. “We talk about issues in our school and what’s happening outside of school, and I would say all of the people that are there are my friends.”

No matter the name he chooses to go by – “Brendon” or “Brianna” – Brendon said he’s still the same person inside.

“I’m still the same person, but I definitely have more of an open mind to other people’s identities and I definitely think I’m more open to how everybody else lives their life,” he said. 

 

 

Living my truth

I failed to see

Who I’m meant to be

When everyone tells you what to believe

 

I have heard the lies

They tell me to hide

I feel out of my mind

“You should not be seen,

You closeted freak”

 have known all my life

that I was meant to fight

Hoping, praying that I could be the boy that I wanna be

And it’s not a phase

To finally know my name

So here I am standing strong.

Living my truth

 

Growing up is always hard

Learning who I am

“You’re confused”

“You’re obsessed”

“You’re just a teen”

These things they tell me

 

But I hear a voice

Calling me to be

Everything I see inside

Cut that hair, make them stare

Then go on T now you feel free

Show them who you are

 

I have known all my life

that I was meant to fight

Hoping, praying that I could be the boy that I wanna be

And it’s not a phase

To finally know my name

So here I am standing strong

Living my truth

 

And I have heard the hate

But today I throw it all away

You cannot change who I am

Because I know my name

 

And I have heard the lies

Saying that I’m a devil’s child

Looking back at what they said

I thought they were right

But...

 

I have known all my life

that I was meant to fight

Hoping, praying that I could be the boy that I want to be

And it’s not a phase

To finally know my name

So here I am standing strong

Living my truth, my truth

Category:

The Brandon Valley Journal

 

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