With 511,000 Americans dead from coronavirus, Republicans are outraged at Amazon pulling an anti-trans book

Josh Milton February 28, 2021
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Amazon founder Jeffrey Bezos speaks in front of an image of an opened book

Amazon founder Jeffrey Bezos. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

With more than 511,000 Americans dead from coronavirus, a group of Republicans have vowed to take action.

Well, against Amazon for pulling a deeply anti-trans book off its shelves, that is.

In a statement addressed to Amazon boss Jeff Bezos dated Wednesday (24 February), four senators slammed the online retail giant for halting sales of When Harry Became Sally.

Senators Marco Rubio of Florida, Mike Lee of Utah, Mike Braun of Indiana and Josh Hawley of Missouri sought to praise the 2018 book by conservative author Ryan Anderson, a former fellow of anti-LGBT+ think tank Heritage Foundation.

“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,” they wrote in the joint statement.

“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.”

‘Balanced’ book on trans rights relies on ‘junk science’

When Harry Became Sally has been heavily criticised by LGBT+ readers and advocacy groups for how it focuses on cherry-picked negative stories and quotes “junk science“.

In the book’s introduction, Anderson says “Doctor [Paul] McHugh got it right,” referring to the former chief of psychiatry at Johns Hopkins Hospital’s view that being trans is a “mental illness“.

It also refers to pioneering trans celebrities as confused, such as calling Laverne Cox “a man who identifies as a woman”, The Independent reported.

The book was once required reading of a trans teen being forced to undergo conversion therapy.

This is, according to the book’s description, part of its “balanced approach” to trans topics.

It was removed from Amazon, its publisher Encounter Books claimed in a statement, for violating the website’s content guidelines.

“We don’t sell certain content including content that we determine is hate speech, promotes the abuse or sexual exploitation of children, contains pornography, glorifies rape or paedophilia, advocates terrorism, or other material we deem inappropriate or offensive,” Amazon’s guidelines state.

This isn’t the first time Amazon has pulled anti-LGBT+ books off its shelves, with the company having removed a book packed with pseudoscientific claims that peddled conversion therapy in 2019.

Anderson told The Independent that in removing the book, Amazon has harmed “the entire culture of book authoring, publishing, and reading – as it will have a chilling effect on all aspects of the book market”.

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