For a very long while now, I’ve maintained the pseudonymous me online that I use here and on Twitter. Lately, I’ve been giving much thought to how out I want this identity to be and if or when I merge it with the online me that uses my legal name.
The further I go in my transition journey, the more pressure I’m starting to feel to converge identities. This pressure comes from the desire to live my life more authentically and open after years and years of hiding a core part of myself from others. It’s liberating to be able to tell other people about me and what’s happening in my life.
Another positive benefit to being more out online is the increase in legitimacy it would bring to my online identity. With an un-verifiable online identity, it takes longer for other people to trust that you’re not a poseur, a chaser or a dog.
There are other positives, like not having to context switch or juggle accounts and not having to worry about being outed accidentally or intentionally by myself or others.
The downsides, on the other hand, tend to be more murky.
I’m very lucky in that if I’m outed online, it’s clear that I won’t lose my family, my job or my best friends.
What’s unclear is how it would impact my professional reputation, my long-term ability to get another job, my professional network, insurance, credit rating and a bunch of other stuff I’m probably not even aware of yet. Then there’s the other stuff like potential harassment, stalking or hurtful/hateful stuff that could spill over and effect my family somehow.
Even more unclear is what would happen to all the other stuff I’ve poured into the Internet over the years. Some of it I would want to bring along into an out online life while I’d like other bits to stay where they are and rot, never to be seen again.
I assume (and you should too,) that anything written or posted online will never, ever go away and that the ability to retrieve the entire corpus of a person’s work and correlate seemingly different online personas will get easier and easier as time goes on.
Therein lies the conundrum. If it’s getting easier to pierce the veil of anonymity or pseudonymity, why bother?
Because for now, I’m not out and I still need a space away from my existing life to vent, to cry, to laugh, to share and to grow in.