If you’re a naturist writer, you’re already all “exposed,” so why would you use a pen name?
Writers use pseudonyms for all kinds of reasons. Sometimes they want to appear to be a different gender, or to cloak their gender behind initials. Sometimes they want to use different pen names for different genres that they write in, or for different languages that they write in. Sometimes their birth name is the same as that of someone who is already well known, and they want to have a pen name to avoid association with the “taken” name. It’s possible that the writer wants to call attention to the act of writing, as in a kind of metafiction. And, of course, sometimes it’s because they wish to remain anonymous.
For naturist writers, protecting identity can be imperative, depending on where one lives or what kind of job one has. Ideally, no one would need to use a pen name to protect their identity. But we don’t live in an ideal world. Association with mere nudity (as opposed to sexualized nudity) has been used–unjustly–against writers or other artists in all kinds of settings, from work to church to family to school. Protecting oneself with a pen name has the same basis as the practice of using first names only, a policy in force at more than a few naturist parks and clubs.
If you’re posting to your own blog or publishing your own work, it’s relatively easy to use a pseudonym. If you’re writing on social media platforms such as Twitter, you can create a ‘handle’ that might not have anything to do with your birth name. But some formats and organizations–even specifically naturist ones–don’t allow the use of pen names. For example, at N magazine (publication of The Naturist Society Foundation), there was a debate on the matter, and the editorial board decided that to be published in N a writer must use their legal name. Merely insisting that people use their real names is one thing, but creating a culture where that is not penalized is quite another. Because The Naturist Society does indeed work toward creating that culture by striving to destigmatize social nudity, I believe they are justified in their decision.
In most other contexts, what’s appropriate is to remember that everyone has a different set of circumstances. It’s easy to judge, but less easy to imagine, to empathize, and to acknowledge that the problem is bigger than any one individual or organization.
After all, if a fiction writer has a pen name, it’s just one more element of the fiction…