When I first started writing occasionally for FilmDrunk eight years ago, everybody was using silly fake names. A lot has changed since then, and I assumed I’d soon be asked to drop my own pseudonym when Brian dropped his. And that time has come. Being that Sweet Orefice and Tillmann Buttersack are already taken, I suppose you guys will just have to call me Caleb. By the way, hi.
So why did I hold out so long on dropping the silly name Robo Panda? Well, I’m transgender. That’s not a secret. I mention my sexual orientation and gender [gay trans dude] when it’s relevant (and it usually isn’t, despite what hate-fomenting, bigotass politicians seem to think). But I was using a silly fake name because it’s an easy way to be left the hell alone. Before some bigot sends off a death threat, they have to ask themself, “Am I really about to threaten somebody named f*cking robopanda?” A silly pseudonym gets people to chill out, but it can also lead to people not taking you seriously professionally, either. So you’re stuck in a situation where you have to decide between “stay safer, but maybe get passed over for work and recognition” or “sacrifice safety for potentially more respect” or just “live in the closet and hate yourself.” For as long as I’ve been on the internet, safety (and no closet) seemed like the obvious choice. Perhaps even more so lately, because right-wing politicians figured out they can’t get as many votes anymore by being homophobic and they’ve moved on to calling all transgender Americans rapists.