Amazon said that it reserves the right to not sell certain content.(REUTERS)
Amazon said that it reserves the right to not sell certain content.(REUTERS)

Amazon removed book by conservative author on ‘transgender moment’. Here’s why

  • In a letter to Amazon chief executive Jeff Bezos, four Republican senators had asked the company “to clarify the intentions and extent” of their action.
By hindustantimes.com | Edited by Kunal Gaurav
PUBLISHED ON MAR 13, 2021 06:01 PM IST

E-commerce giant Amazon Inc. has said that it will not sell books that frame gender or sexual identities as mental illness. Amazon's statement came after conservative groups criticised the company for removing a book titled ‘When Harry became Sally: Responding to the Transgender Moment’ from its platform.

The book, authored by conservative Ryan T. Anderson, a teaching fellow at the University of Dallas, was published in 2018 and was available on Amazon for a long time before the company last month decided to remove it from its online stores, e-book and audiobook platforms.

What is the book about?

According to the publisher, Encounter Books, Anderson’s work provides “answers to questions arising from our transgender moment.” The publisher, on its website, further states that the book “exposes the contrast between the media’s sunny depiction of gender fluidity and the often sad reality of living with gender dysphoria.” The book claims to give voice to those who “tried to ‘transition’ by changing their bodies, and found themselves no better off.”

In a letter to Amazon chief executive Jeff Bezos, Republican senators Marco Rubio, Mike Lee, Mike Braun and Josh Hawley had asked the company “to clarify the intentions and extent” of their actions after the book was removed from its platforms. Calling it a “political censorship” activity, the four Senate Republicans accused Amazon of wielding its “outsized market share to silence an important voice merely for the crime of violating woke groupthink.”

“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,” the letter read, which was followed by a set of questions.

Amazon’s defence

Responding to the letter, Amazon said that it reserves the right to not sell certain content and, like other retailers, they also make decisions about what selection they choose to offer. “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,” Brian Huseman, Amazon’s vice president for public policy, replied in a letter to the senators.

Amazon said that the company regularly reviews its “content guidelines for books” and its approach to curate the online bookstore. The American retail giant acknowledged that its policy did change between 2018 and the present. The retail giant said that it had notified the book’s distributor in advance regarding the removal “for violating our content guidelines.”

Equality Act

Last month, the US House of Representatives passed legislation that would provide LGBTQ+ Americans legal protection from discrimination. The Equality Act, backed by US President Joe Biden, amends the 1964 Civil Rights Act to include sexual orientation and gender identity as protected classes in addition to race, religion, sex and national origin. Biden had promised to prioritise the enactment of LGBTQ+ rights legislation within 100 days of taking the office. However, the landmark bill is yet to be passed by the evenly-split Senate and, so far, no Senate Republicans have said they will vote for the bill.

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