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GOP senators question Amazon on removal of book about 'transgender moment'

GOP senators question Amazon on removal of book about 'transgender moment'
© Greg Nash

A number of Republican senators sent a letter to Amazon's CEO last week requesting answers to questions surrounding the removal of a book about transgender people from Amazon's online shelves following pushback from LGBTQ activists.

In a letter released by Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio Rubio15 Senate Republicans pledge to oppose lifting earmark ban Parade of 2024 GOP hopefuls court House conservatives Hillicon Valley: Biden administration sanctions Russia for SolarWinds hack, election interference MORE (R-Fla.), the senators, including Josh HawleyJoshua (Josh) David HawleyHillicon Valley: Apple approves Parler's return to App Store | White House scales back response to SolarWinds, Microsoft incidents | Pressure mounts on DHS over relationship with Clearview AI 15 Senate Republicans pledge to oppose lifting earmark ban Is the antidote to bad speech more speech or more regulation? MORE (R-Mo.), Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeHillicon Valley: Apple approves Parler's return to App Store | White House scales back response to SolarWinds, Microsoft incidents | Pressure mounts on DHS over relationship with Clearview AI 15 Senate Republicans pledge to oppose lifting earmark ban Apple approves Parler's return to App Store MORE (R-Utah) and Mike BraunMichael Braun15 Senate Republicans pledge to oppose lifting earmark ban The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - All US adults can get vaccine; decision Friday on J&J vax GOP acknowledges struggle to bring down Biden MORE (R-Ind.), accused Amazon CEO Jeff BezosJeffrey (Jeff) Preston BezosNASA picks Elon Musk's SpaceX to build spacecraft for manned moon missions Harvard Business community backs alumna's discrimination lawsuit against Amazon Union leader: 'Amazon left no stone unturned' in unionization fight MORE's company of engaging in "political censorship" by removing the book, "When Harry Became Sally" by Ryan Anderson, due to the size of Amazon's share of the online book-buying market. The book had been previously sold by Amazon for several years.

"We write regarding Amazon’s recent political censorship activities, particularly the decision to remove the book When Harry Became Sally by conservative scholar, Ryan Anderson, from the Amazon website, Kindle, and Audible platforms," they wrote.

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"In its decision to remove Mr. Anderson’s book from its platforms, Amazon has openly signaled to conservative Americans that their views are not welcome on its platforms. Amazon’s shortsighted censorship of this well-researched and thoughtful contribution to modern American discourse is not just a decision made in poor taste, but an assault on free speech that carries weighty implications for the future of open discourse in the digital age," they continued.

The senators went on to question Bezos whether Anderson had advance knowledge that his book would be pulled from Amazon's shelves, what the "motivating factor" was in pulling the book, and whether it had been found to be in violation of any Amazon policies.

Critics of Anderson's book point to his refusal throughout the text to refer to transgender individuals by their legal names, as well as his reliance on experts affiliated with a conservative group known for its extreme anti-LGBTQ stances.

Amazon representatives declined to comment specifically on the senators' letter, while adding that the company reserves the right to pull any book on its shelves that it believes violate company content guidelines on hate speech and other issues.

“As a bookseller, we provide our 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 as described in our content guidelines for books, which you can find here. All retailers make decisions about what selection they choose to offer, and we do not take selection decisions lightly," said a spokesperson.

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The senators' letter was praised on Twitter by Anderson.