It said it recently removed a three-year-old book on transgender issues from its platforms because it decided not to sell books that frame transgender people and other sexual identities as mental illness.
The company explained its decision in a letter Thursday to Republican Senators Marco Rubio of Florida, Mike Lee of Utah, Mike Braun of Indiana and Josh Hawley of Missouri, which was reviewed by The Wall Street Journal. Senators had written last month to CEO Jeff Bezos requesting an explanation as to why “When Harry Became Sally: Responding to the Transgender Moment” was no longer available on Amazon AMZN. 1.83%
nor on its Kindle and Audible platforms.
“As for 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, which was signed by Brian Huseman, vice president of public policy. from Amazon, referring to sexual identities that include lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender, among others.
When Harry Became Sally, written by conservative academic Ryan T. Anderson, was published in February 2018. The book focuses on a variety of issues, including gender identity.
“Everyone agrees that gender dysphoria is a serious condition that causes great suffering,” said Anderson and Roger Kimball, editor of Encounter Books, the New York-based nonprofit that published the book, in a statement Thursday in response to Amazon’s letter. .
“There is a debate, however, that Amazon is trying to shut down, about the best way to treat patients experiencing gender dysphoria,” they added, calling their book “an important contribution” to that conversation. “Amazon is using its enormous power to distort the market for ideas and is misleading its own customers in the process,” they said.
Amazon’s decision comes as the nation’s largest tech platforms are under increased scrutiny regarding the decisions they make about what content is acceptable. Senators, in their letter dated February 24, characterized Amazon’s decision to withdraw the book as a signal “to conservative Americans that their views are not welcome on their platforms.”
The four senators could not be reached for comment late Thursday afternoon.
Senators in their letter had also asked Bezos if Amazon had changed its content guidelines since 2018. In Thursday’s response, the company said it had in fact changed its guidelines since that year, without providing further details.
Amazon said it gives its customers “access to a variety of viewpoints, including books that some customers may find objectionable.”
“With that said, we reserve the right not to sell certain content,” wrote Amazon’s Mr. Huseman. “All retailers make decisions about the selection they choose to offer, just like we do.”
Amazon is the nation’s dominant book retailer, accounting for 53% of all books sold in the US and 80% of all e-books, according to recent 30-day sales data from Codex Group LLC, a firm book audience research. Removing a title from the Amazon platform can have a significant impact on its performance.
Write to Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg at [email protected]
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