Amazon reverses ban on dangerous anti-trans book despite complaints from staff
Amazon has refused to stop selling a dangerous anti-trans book in spite of an internal complaint filed by dozens of the company’s LGBT+ staff.
The book, Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters, is written by the anti-trans journalist Abigail Shrier, who helped proliferate the debunked concept of “rapid onset gender dysphoria”.
Her book describes trans identity as “a peer contagion among teen girls”, perpetuating the idea that being transgender is inherently harmful to youth and something to be “cured”.
“A generation of girls is at risk,” the Amazon description reads. “Abigail Shrier’s essential book will help you understand what the trans craze is and how you can inoculate your child against it – or how to retrieve her from this dangerous path.”
Scores of Amazon employees lodged a complaint in April, arguing that the text violates Amazon’s policy against selling books “that frame LGBTQ+ identity as a mental illness”.
Leaders of Amazon’s LGBT+ employee group Glamazon strongly urged the company to drop the book, according to The Seattle Times.
“As a proud Amazonian and a queer person, I invite Amazon to do the right thing and remove this book from our offerings globally,” wrote an employee in the initial complaint.
But on 23 April, Amazon’s director of book content risk and quality declared that Amazon would not stop selling Irreversible Damage.
“Amazon has an internal process for evaluating the appropriateness of books and we have shared your feedback,” the director wrote on an internal message board.
“In this case, the process included gathering feedback from Glamazon board members and the Books Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion team. After examining the content of the book in detail and calibrating with senior leadership, we have confirmed that it does not violate our content policy.”
The company previously acknowledged the book’s “offensive content” when it suspended a paid-for advertising campaign for Irreversible Damage last year, resulting in a “significant hit” to the publisher.
“It contains elements that may not be appropriate for all audiences, which may include ad copy/book content that infers or claims to diagnose, treat, or question sexual orientation,” Amazon said at time. “Hence, this campaign will not be allowed to be advertised.”
Yet the retail giant now appears to have changed position, telling NBC News: “As a bookseller, we believe that providing access to written speech and a variety of viewpoints is one of the most important things we do – even when those viewpoints differ from our own or Amazon’s stated positions.”
This apparent change of heart has frustrated Amazon’s LGBT+ staff, who are said to be dissatisfied with the decision.
“We’ve been fighting this for months,” a Glamazon board member told other employees last week, according to Slack messages seen by The Seattle Times. “We were consulted. We told them it’s transphobic and needs to be removed.”
Their concern is shared by Dr Jack Turban, a fellow in child and adolescent psychiatry at the Stanford University School of Medicine, who said the book spreads dangerous misinformation.
“Every relevant major medical organisation (The American Academy of Pediatrics, The American Psychiatric Association, and The American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, to name a few) disagrees with [Shrier’s] position,” he said in an email to NBC News.
“Research consistently shows that family rejection of a young person’s gender identity is a major predictor of bad mental health outcomes, including suicide attempts,” he continued.
“This book promotes that kind of family rejection. I can’t emphasise enough how dangerous that is from a public mental health perspective.”
After Amazon’s decision Shrier has defended the book’s content, insisting that she only opposes gender-affirming treatment for trans youth, not adults.
“Anyone who thinks my book ‘advances a narrative of transgender identity as a disease’ hasn’t read it, or is a bona fide idiot,” she wrote on Twitter.