I'm Dropping the Pseudonym From This Blog

Don't think.
If you think, then don't speak.
If you think and speak, then don't write.
If you think, speak, and write, then don't sign.
If you think, speak, write, and sign, then don't be surprised.

—Soviet proverb

When I decided I wanted to write about autogynephilia in late 2016, some of my very smart and cowardly friends advised me to use a pseudonym. I recognized this as prudent advice ("then don't sign"), so I started this blog under a pen name, M. Taylor Saotome-Westlake. (Growing up with the name Zachary Davis in the internet era of one global namespace had taught me to appreciate distinctive names; I have to include my middle initial everywhere in order to avoid drowning in the Google results of the other hundred Zack Davises.)

Awkwardly, however, my ability to recognize prudent advice when posed to me, didn't extend to being the kind of prudent person who could generate such advice—or follow it. Usually when people spin up a pen name to cover their politically-sensitive writing, the idea is to keep the pen name separate from the author's real identity: to maybe tell a few close friends, but otherwise maintain a two-sided boundary such that readers don't know who the author is as a person, and acquaintances don't know the person is an author.

I couldn't do that. I live on the internet. I could put a pen name on the blog itself as a concession to practicality, but I couldn't pretend it wasn't mine. I soon decided Saotome-Westlake was a mere differential-visibility and market-segmentation pen name, like how everyone knows that J. K. Rowling is Robert Galbraith. It was probably better for my career as a San Francisco software engineer for my gender and worse heterodoxy blog to not show up on the first page of my real-name Google results, but it wasn't a secret. I felt free to claim ownership of this blog under my real name, and make a running joke over links in the other direction.

At this point, the joke is getting old. I feel confident enough in my human capital—and worried enough about how long human capital will continue to be relevant—that the awkwardness and confusion of ostensibly maintaining two identities when everyone who actively follows my writing knows who I am, doesn't seem worth the paltry benefit of hiding from future employers.

Because I don't, actually, think I should have to hide. I don't think I've betrayed the liberal values of my youth. If I've ended up in an unexpected place after years of reading and thinking, it's only because the reading and thinking proved themselves more trustworthy than the expectation—that you too might consider joining me here, given the time to hear me explain it all from the beginning.

Maybe that's naïve. Maybe my very smart and cowardly friends had the right end of the expected-utility calculation all along. But I can't live like them. I don't think someone could generate the things I have to say, if they didn't have to say them. So whatever happens, while the world is still here, I intend to think, speak, write—and sign—in accordance with both rationalist and Soviet wisdom.

Not to be surprised.

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