Amazon bans books that lie about LGBT+ people being mentally ill. Sorry about it, bigots

Maggie Baska
·2-min read

Amazon has said it will no longer sell books that frame LGBT+ identities as a “mental illness”, responding to a row over an anti-trans book.

The online retail giant explained its decision after Republicans complained that a three-year-old anti-trans book was removed from the Amazon website and its Kindle and Audible platforms.

Republican senators Marco Rubio (Florida), Mike Lee (Utah), Mike Braun (Indiana) and Josh Hawley (Missouri) wrote to Amazon chief executive Jeff Bezo last month requesting an explanation as to why the book When Harry Became Sally: Responding to the Transgender Moment was no available on any of its platforms.

The company responded to the senators in a letter on Thursday (11 March), saying Amazon would no longer be selling books that claimed being LGBT+ was a mental illness. According to The Wall Street Journal, the letter was signed by Brian Huseman, Amazon’s vice president of public policy.

The letter stated: “As to your specific question about When Harry Became Sally, we have chosen not to tell books that frame LGBTQ+ identity as a mental illness.”

Amazon said it provides its customers with “access to a variety of viewpoints, including books that some customers may find objectionable”. The letter said: “That said, we reserve the right not to sell certain content.

“All retailers make decisions about what selection they choose to offer, as do we.”

When Harry Became Sally is a book written by conservative scholar Ryan T Anderson and was published in February 2018.

The book has sparked controversy for “attacking trans people while conveniently leaving them out”.

In the book, Anderson writes that society needs to “respect the dignity” of trans people but argues against trans-affirming healthcare and misgenders trans people, including the actor Laverne Cox and reality star Caitlyn Jenner.

In a joint statement, Anderson and Roger Kimball, the publisher of Encounter Books, said Amazon is “seeking to shut down” their debate about “how best to treat patients who experience gender dysphoria“, calling their book “an important contribution” to that conversation.

They said: “Amazon is using its massive power to distort the marketplace of ideas and is deceiving its own customers in the process.”

The American Psychological Association (APA) recently adopted a resolution rebuking conversion therapy on trans patients, citing that being trans is not a “mental disorder”.

The APA, which is the leading scientific and professional psychological organisation in the UK, correctly stated that “transgender and gender non-binary identities and expressions are healthy” and that “incongruence between one’s sex and gender is neither pathological nor a mental disorder”.

Jennifer F Kelly, president of the APA, said there is a “growing body of research” that shows that transgender or non-binary gender identities are “normal variations in human expression of gender”.

She added: “Attempts to force people to conform with rigid gender identities can be harmful to their mental health and wellbeing.”