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Amazon says its ban of transgender-critical book was due to updated content policy

While Amazon initially said the book violated its “content” policy, a senior Amazon official clarified on Thursday that the company has “chosen not to sell books that frame LGBTQ+ identity as a mental illness.”

(Image of phone: Christian Wiediger/

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Mar 12, 2021 / 03:00 pm (CNA).- Amazon says it stopped selling a transgender-critical book because of its framing of “LGBTQ+ identity as a mental illness.”

In a letter issued to several Republican senators on Thursday and first reported by the Wall Street Journal, a senior Amazon official explained why the company recently de-listed a book critical of transgender ideology.

On Feb. 21, scholar Ryan Anderson had said that he was made aware that his book When Harry Became Sally: Responding to the Transgender Moment was no longer available for sale on The book, which was sold on Amazon for three years, is still not available nearly three weeks later.

While Amazon initially said the book violated its “content” policy, a senior Amazon official clarified on Thursday that the company has “chosen not to sell books that frame LGBTQ+ identity as a mental illness.”

Anderson, president of the Ethics and Public Policy Center (EPPC), authored the book which was published in 2018 and was listed for sale on at the time. The book is a scholarly critique of the transgender movement, investigating the biological, psychological, and philosophical areas of the debate over gender ideology.

Anderson tweeted on Thursday that Amazon is trying to close off parts of the transgender debate.

“Everyone agrees that gender dysphoria is a serious condition that causes great suffering. There is a debate, however, which Amazon is seeking to shut down, about how best to treat patients who experience gender dysphoria,” he said.

He responded to claims that his framing of gender dysphoria as a “mental illness” was offensive. Anderson has previously said that he never called people identifying as transgender “mentally ill.” He has also noted that the American Psychological Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders lists gender dysphoria as a mental disorder.

A publication on the APA’s website notes that “gender non-conformity is not in itself a mental disorder,” but lists gender dysphoria as a disorder, noting that the “dysphoria is from the distress caused by the body and mind not aligning and/or societal marginalization of gender-variant people.”

“So the real deciding factor seems to be whether you endorse hormones and surgery as the proper treatment or counseling,” Anderson tweeted on Friday.

While Amazon initially did not give a reason for the removal of Anderson’s book—saying only that it violated their “content policy”—they have now clarified their policy in the letter to senators.

Several senators were critical of Amazon’s removal of the book, and demanded an explanation from the company. Amazon’s letter on Thursday was sent to the offices of Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), Mike Braun (R-Ind.), and Mike Lee (R-Utah).

Huseman confirmed in his letter to the senators that the company held discussions on the book’s content when it was published in 2018. He also confirmed that the company’s content policy for books had changed between 2018 and 2021.

Anderson told CNA on Feb. 22 that he had not been informed in advance of his book’s removal from Amazon, rather finding out from other people who noticed it wasn’t available for sale on the website.

On the day the book was removed, Amazon had informed the distributor for Anderson’s book of its removal, Huseman explained on Thursday.

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) also criticized Amazon this week, in a speech on the Senate Floor.

“The author’s real offence, the only offence, was telling the truth,” he said of Anderson. “He said calmly and compassionately that boys are boys and girls are girls, and the richest man in the world banned his book from his company’s platform.”

He noted that Amazon customers can still purchase copies of other controversial works, such as Adolf Hitler’s memoir Mein Kampf or the manifesto of the “Unabomber” Ted Kaczynski, Industrial Society and Its Future.

“How dangerous it is for the one of the biggest corporations in the history of the world to start banning books,” Cotton said.

Kathryn Jean Lopez, who directs the Center for Religion, Culture, and Society at the National Review Institute, stated on Thursday that “Ryan’s book is hands-down the best and most compassionate book that exists on what people are suffering from sickness and ideology. He is all about the truth in love.”

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  1. None of us need a seller of general merchandise telling us what we can and cannot read. Especially when they also peddle books and DVDs that many people would consider porn. I am not aware they have scientists on their staff that would have any knowledge of whether or not transgenderism is or is not in fact a mental illness. Certainly it was once considered so. Why is it forbidden to talk about it now??? Exactly how normal it is to want to cut off body parts to make yourself into something else should indeed be left to the scientifically informed to bring into public discussion.AS this banned book was attempting to do. I strongly suggest that those reading my post make an effort to deprive Amazon of your revenue. That is what I am doing and I am advising my friends to do so as well. Failing to do this is to help pay for the suppression of your own free speech. Amazon is simply a middle man and they actually make NOTHING.We didnt elect them to rule our lives. Spend $3 dollars more on a book or whatever merchandise and support a smaller company who needs it. Sitting around complaining will have no effect. Re-directing your dollars WILL. I have stopped buying Coke, or shopping at Bed Bath and Beyond,and Amazon. I have stopped using my American Express card. I have stopping buying Hallmark Cards, and removed cash from a bank which has been dropping conservative clients as customers, just because they are conservative. I made certain to tell the bank manager why. Fight back in the only way they understand. It’s not as hard as you think. Let’s roll.

    • Andrew – yours is a good point.

      BUT – How can I boycott them if I never had anything to do with them in the first (or second) place?

      I’m going to Augusta (Maine) tomorrow for 10:30 Mass and on the way home I’ll stop at Barnes & Noble and see if they’ve got that book. I’ll bet they don’t.

      Feces occur.

      • If YOU do not buy from Amazon ( which makes you a rarity) its a strong bet that your younger relatives DO use them. The frank matter is that using AMAZON is a convenience, not a necessity, but people are creatures of habit and go there again and again to purchase. That is WHY you have to help spread the word. There are many American companies which have weakened under the pressure of leftists, and now are suppressing conservatism like it is equivalent to Nazism or the KKK. More companies and school districts are enacting mandatory lectures which attack white people just for being white. Coke was recently on record as telling its employees ” try to act less white.” This is totally offensive and has NEVER been what America stands for. Hallmark cards asked for their donations back from 2 republican senators because they had the temerity to support Donald Trumps questioning of the last election. Its easy to google your zip code and ask who in that code sells American Greeting. Buy them instead. There are many places to begin to find economic alternatives. Charge cards for example. American Express, and Master card, to name two, have dropped donations to republican candidates. So I use my Visa card, which has dropped donations to Both parties. Its my best alternative, as they have not “picked a side” and I wish corporations would stay out of politics anyway. I sure do support GOYA food products since they were targeted by AOC. So many people did the same that GOYA named her ’employee of the month” recently as sales soared. I write civil letters to the CEO’s of the companies I boycott and I tell them why I am doing so. I am avoiding Bed Bath and Beyond who dropped Mike Lindells ” My Pillow” again because he is a TRUMP supporter. This is America. There is ALWAYS an alternative place to spend your money.I received an email saying Amazon is under pressure to ban the book ” Consecration to Saint Joseph”: by Father Donald Calloway, for supposed hate speech. Its still available but time will tell. This is like the French Revolution where the inmates are running the asylum. The more we ignore this attack on free speech threat, the more we are apt to be consumed by it. We HAVE to push back. Pick a few companies and get your family and friends on board. Dont wait for anyone else.Start today!!

  2. Amazon’s explanation is a load of crap, plain and simple. They are worried about book sales to the LGBTQ people. Just another example of a corporation forgetting their corporate responsibility, if they have one. Disguising organization.

  3. Ryan Anderson should take Amazon to court. They agreed on the content, then Amazon changed its mind and decided to not only change their standards post publishing, but squelched Anderson’ right of free press, and the consumers right to the information.

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