When Amazon quietly removed the book “When Harry Became Sally: Responding to the Transgender Moment” from its platform, the gesture did not go unnoticed by conservative lawmakers.
Senators Marco Rubio (R-Florida), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Mike Braun (R-Indiana) and Josh Hawley (R-Missouri) reached out to Amazon inquiring why the book was no longer available for sale on Amazon or its Kindle and Audible services.
Published in 2018, “When Harry Became Sally” shines a critical light on the progressive steps that have been taken in the medical community and legal world in regard to transgender issues. The book characterizes public policies such as unisex bathrooms as “misguided,” and focuses on stories about adults who transitioned during childhood and then later regretted it, in an attempt to argue that transgender individuals are in fact suffering from mental illness.
In response to the question of why Anderson’s work had been erased from its platforms, Amazon executive Brian Huseman did not mince words.
“[W]e have chosen not to sell books that frame LGBTQ+ identity as a mental illness,” Huseman wrote in a letter to the Republican senators, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Anderson took offense to this depiction of his book, posting on Twitter that Amazon has no real understanding of what his book is about.
Amazon appears to have never read my book, but relied on hit pieces. As I pointed out before: “Please quote the passage where I ‘call them mentally ill.’ You can’t quote that passage because it doesn’t exist.” https://t.co/aN06WrLmxz
— Ryan T. Anderson (@RyanTAnd) March 12, 2021
This is not the first time Amazon has scrubbed certain controversial books from its platform. In 2019, Amazon made headlines when the company announced that it would stop selling books and materials that promote conversion therapy as a way of “fixing” homosexuality, taking books from Dr. Joseph Nicolosi (often called the “father of conversion therapy”) off the website.
As for “When Harry Became Sally,” there are others beyond the Republican lawmakers and the book’s author who are displeased to see the title removed from Amazon’s website. The National Coalition Against Censorship has denounced the move, fearing that it is a form of censorship that could have a far-reaching impact on public discourse.
“The National Coalition Against Censorship is deeply concerned by Amazon’s sudden decision to remove from sale a book, ‘When Harry Became Sally: Responding to the Transgender Moment’ by Ryan T. Anderson. Amazon had been selling this controversial title for the last three years,” the group wrote on its website.
“While the book’s arguments anger many people, they are part of the public debate over gender identity. Amazon’s decision to stop selling it threatens the marketplace of ideas.”
When The Hill reached out to Amazon for more information about how this new policy would be implemented and what other books would be removed from the website, they did not yet receive a reply. As The Hill piece points out, it’s not clear how many other titles will be removed or prohibited from being sold on Amazon under this standard.