Business & Lobbying

Amazon removing books that frame LGBTQ issues as mental illness

Amazon has made the decision recently to remove books from its catalog that frame transgender and other LGBTQ identities as mental illnesses, The Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday.

The move came after four Republicans — Sens. Marco Rubio (Fla.), Mike Lee (Utah), Mike Braun (Ind.) and Josh Hawley (Mo.) — sent a letter on Feb. 24 to chief executive Jeff Bezos questioning why “When Harry Became Sally: Responding to the Transgender Moment” was no longer available on Amazon platforms, including Kindle and Audible.

“As to your specific question about When Harry Became Sally, we have chosen not to sell books that frame LGBTQ+ identity as a mental illness,” Amazon said in the letter to the senators, obtained by the outlet.

Amazon’s vice president of public policy, Brian Huseman, wrote in the letter that the company had changed its content guidelines for books since 2018 but did not elaborate on how.

Amazon said it provides its customers “with access to a variety of viewpoints, including books that some customers may find objectionable.”

“That said, we reserve the right not to sell certain content,” Huseman wrote. “All retailers make decisions about what selection they choose to offer, as do we.”

It is unclear how many books Amazon has or will remove under the new standard. The Hill has reached out to the company for comment.

“When Harry Became Sally,” published in 2019, was written by conservative scholar Ryan T. Anderson and discusses several issues including gender identity.

“This book exposes the contrast between the media’s sunny depiction of gender fluidity and the often sad reality of living with gender dysphoria,” according to its description online. “It gives a voice to people who tried to ‘transition’ by changing their bodies, and found themselves no better off. Especially troubling are the stories told by adults who were encouraged to transition as children but later regretted subjecting themselves to those drastic procedures.”

Anderson responded to the news on Twitter, saying Amazon “appears to have never read my book, but relied on hit pieces.”

“As I pointed out before: ‘Please quote the passage where I ‘call them mentally ill,’ ” Anderson wrote. “You can’t quote that passage because it doesn’t exist.”

Anderson and Roger Kimball, the publisher of Encounter Books, which released the title, said in a statement to the WSJ that “everyone agrees that gender dysphoria is a serious condition that causes great suffering.”

“There is a debate, however, which Amazon is seeking to shut down, about how best to treat patients who experience gender dysphoria,” they added, calling their book “an important contribution” to that conversation.

“Amazon is using its massive power to distort the marketplace of ideas and is deceiving its own customers in the process,” Anderson and Kimball said in the joint statement.

Conservatives had framed the book’s removal as censorship, railing against Amazon for continuing to sell other controversial or problematic books like “Mein Kampf” or the “Communist Manifesto.”

“When Harry Became Sally prompted important discussions in the national media and among policymakers in 2018, and remains one of the most rigorously researched and compassionately argued books on this subject,” the senators wrote to Amazon last month. “By removing this book from its marketplaces and services, Amazon has unabashedly wielded its outsized market share to silence an important voice merely for the crime of violating woke groupthink.”

Amazon denied that the book’s removal was part of a broader campaign against conservative material and voices.

“We offer customers across the political spectrum a wide variety of content that includes disparate opinions,’ the company wrote back. 

The senators did not respond to The Wall Street Journal’s requests for comment.

Tags Amazon Amazon Amazon books Jeff Bezos Josh Hawley LGBTQ issues Marco Rubio mental illness Mike Braun Mike Lee Ryan T. Anderson Tom Cotton Transgender Wall Street Journal When Harry Became Sally

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