I’ve had a neutral (non-person) picture on both services since I joined. I relish the implicit neutrality that this sort of picture offers me, but I’m choosing to assert the whole of my identity across the services I inhabit.
A neutral picture lends an element of gender-neutrality to the twitter timeline, as there is no face with which to implicitly associate with stereotypes. I feel that without an identifying photo, I am more able to remove associations of my gender from interpretations of my work, although my name is prominent on these services. Perhaps I am merely being overly guarded against potential sexism. There are many other reasons for not using a personal photo online, but this was mine for these sites.
I made the decision to use my own photo, however, because I want to own my full identity. I don’t want to hide my woman-ness (as a proud feminist) for fear of not-yet-existent sexism on these services. That is just another form of self-censorship, in my case. In addition to owning my identity (and letting my true self “shine” in the words of a friend), a photo allows me to more capably link my public identity across services. I will maintain pseudonymity through usernames on other services, but on the services which I identify myself with my full name, I will include a photo. This also allows, in the spirit of Keybase.io, a further layer of identity vetting and verification.
Here’s hoping for the best.