Amazon Pulls Bestseller on Transgender Issues From Store Without Explanation

Amazon steps up censorship campaign against conservative content

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February 23, 2021

Amazon pulled a bestseller on transgender issues from its online store on Sunday without explanation.

Author Ryan T. Anderson tweeted on Sunday that his book, When Harry Became Sally: Responding to the Transgender Moment, had been removed. At the time of writing, the book was not available on Amazon either in physical form, as an e-book, or as an audiobook, although Anderson’s four other books remain up.

Amazon’s crackdown on conservative content mirrors a trend many on the right see in other major tech companies. Criticism of big tech has spiked since Facebook and Twitter removed President Donald Trump following the Jan. 6 Capitol riots. On Jan. 10, Amazon Web Services suspended the account of conservative platform Parler.

The removal of Anderson’s book also calls attention to Amazon’s oversized impact on book sales. In a 2019 letter to the House Antitrust Subcommittee, three major publishing associations wrote that Amazon controls 50 percent or more of the print book market, although some estimates put the number closer to 80 percent. Analyst Ben Evans estimates Amazon controls over 75 percent of the e-book market.

Amazon did not respond to Washington Free Beacon requests for comment, and Anderson said he had not received an explanation for the removal of When Harry Became Sally, which climbed to the top of Amazon’s natural law and LGBT issues book lists when it was released in 2018.

"It’s not about how you say it, it’s not about how rigorously you argue it, it’s not about how charitably you present it. It’s about whether you dissent from a new orthodoxy," Anderson told the Free Beacon. He noted the book had garnered public support from multiple professors of psychology at higher education institutions.

Roger Kimball, president of Anderson’s publisher Encounter Books, told the Free Beacon that Amazon had not responded to requests for an explanation. "I felt like it was one of those pictures of Stalin where Nikolai Yezhov is just photoshopped out of the picture," he said. Kimball said Amazon commands a substantial majority of Encounter’s book sales, but that Encounter is investing in other distribution options.

Amazon has restricted material from other conservative authors on transgender issues in the past. In June 2020, Amazon refused to run ads showing the cover of Abigail Shrier’s Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters. In this case, Amazon pointed to its policy of not running material that "claims to diagnose, treat, or question sexual orientation." Critics, however, pointed out that being transgender is not a sexual orientation.

Anderson’s book faced criticism upon its publication. The Washington Post initially wrote that the book made the inflammatory claim "that transgender people are mentally ill," citing an attack on Anderson from defunct progressive outlet ThinkProgress. The Post then stealth edited its piece when Anderson pointed out that he does not call being transgender a mental illness. Anderson emphasizes the need for charity and respect toward individuals who identify as transgender throughout the book.

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