Exploring Mullets, Mishaps, and Identity With Kris Berardi

“I’m growing a mullet.”

Kris Berardi didn’t mean for their statement to characterize the current state of many during the COVID-19 lockdowns, just as their brother didn’t mean to blow up the family shed but, the pandemic’s open flame can yield interesting results.

In June, Berardi arrived to the same conclusion that many had at a time in which salon doors closed to the public’s overgrown manes: they needed a haircut. When Berardi’s brother had busted out the clippers, Berardi decided on a harebrained objective of preventing their father’s disapproval from gazing at their newly shaved head.

“I didn’t really have a plan to face my dad after I shaved my head. I was just going to avoid him for as long as possible and see how it went from there,” Berardi said with a sheepish smile and a bit of shrug.

Coronavirus’s long residence in the United States must have worked to impair my best judgement because I found myself watching the way the small curls in Berardi’s hair bounced as they reminisced on events from three months ago and thought, maybe they have a point. The best plan is no plan. What else has the pandemic left for us but a dull hope in the future? So Berardi gripped fate in one hand, clippers in the other and brought both upon their head, hoping for the best as their decision conflicted with their father’s hesitation towards their gender identity.

“I wouldn’t say he doesn’t like the fact that I’m trans but, I think he has trouble with it because, ya know, I was his daughter and he misses when I was his daughter. So he tends to push back against things that I do that are more masculine like shaving my head,” Berardi said.

Lucky for Berardi, fate seemed to side with them as the shed outside their house combusted into flame and Berardi’s shaved head became the least of their father’s problems. The shed’s inferno can be linked to their brother’s smoking habits. Apparently, he uses the shed to pursue his vice and left a butane tank inside. Except, on the day Berardi shaved their head, their brother had left the tank on and spared Berardi with a blaze, making their stay with their parents all the more relieving.

Despite renting an apartment with roommates near their school, Berardi made the long drive to pack their things and move back in with their parents in the Bay Area. Berardi has Postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome, a condition that affects blood circulation, and since COVID-19 has reported increased risks for those with pre-existing conditions, Berardi decided it was safer to relocate from their apartment — where they live with multiple roommates who have no choice but to interact with the outside world as essential workers. Since then, they’ve resided with their mother, father and brother and come to terms with their parents’ slow acceptance.

“It’s not like my parents aren’t supportive, it’s just that they see me in a specific way. We don’t really talk about it or acknowledge it,” Berardi said.

While this may occur during their time quarantining in their family home, Berardi seeks to expand the conversation in regards to trans representation in video games. While Berardi addressed their brother’s explosive mishap as one does a slight change in weather, a livelihood lifted each of Berardi’s words as they discussed the intricacies of their senior project. In fact, the lockdowns have helped them dedicate themselves to the continuation of this project.

Berardi has a soft smile playing across their face and their hands dance in small wavy motions when they say, “I love writing and reading about this. I love being able to say ‘hey, this is trans rep even if you don’t realize trans rep’”. And it feels like even I can breathe a little bit better because while the pandemic still dominates the United States, there’s still a Kris — living through quarantine inside the same house walls but relishing in the bits of freedom that come from achieving a popular 80s hairstyle, watching the cinders fall from the yard storage area, or discovering representation and from there, who knows? The best plan is no plan.



Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store