Amazon defends decision to remove conservative Christian scholar's book on transgenderism

Amazon says it removed a conservative Christian scholar's book on transgenderism because it framed "LGBTQ+ identity as a mental illness."

Ryan T. Anderson shared last month that his bestselling book, When Harry Became Sally: Responding to the Transgender Moment, had been removed without notice or explanation by Amazon. 

The book challenges prevailing transgender ideology, particularly the idea that people can be 'trapped' in the wrong body. 

Last month, Republican senators, among them Marco Rubio of Florida and Mike Lee of Utah, wrote to the online retailer asking it to explain its actions. 

Criticizing the removal of Anderson's 2018 book, the senators said the internet works best "when it is an open marketplace of ideas that brings people together to share, learn from one another, and engage in a range of commercial activities."

"Many Americans have come to rely on online retail more than ever before to meet their basic needs, particularly in light of the COVID-19 pandemic," they said.

"In its decision to remove Mr. Anderson's book from its platforms, Amazon has openly signaled to conservative Americans that their views are not welcome on its platforms."

In a written reply to Congress, Amazon Vice President for Public Policy Brian Huseman said: "We have chosen not to sell books that frame LGBTQ+ identity as a mental illness." 

The response has angered Anderson, who in a series of Twitter posts denied framing LGBTQ+ people as having a mental illness. He also accused Amazon of silencing debate around treatment for gender dysphoria. 

"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,'" he said.

"Gender dysphoria is listed in the APA's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, which Amazon sells. So the real deciding factor seems to be whether you endorse hormones and surgery as the proper treatment or counseling.

"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."

Anderson expressed further frustrations over the withdrawal of his book in a joint statement with his publisher, Encounter Books.

"No good comes from shutting down a debate about important matters on which reasonable people of good will disagree," Anderson said. 

"Amazon is using its massive power to distort the marketplace of ideas and is deceiving its own customers in the process."