Several weeks ago, Amazon suddenly stopped offering Ryan T. Anderson’s popular book on gender identity issues, When Harry Became Sally. Several U.S. senators, including Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and Mike Braun, R-Ind., wrote to Amazon’s CEO, Jeff Bezos, asking for an explanation, and also inquiring whether the company’s action was part of a larger attempt by the internet-based seller to ban conservative speech in general.
Amazon replied via a letter which, at last, gave its reason for making the Anderson book, first published three years ago, disappear from its website: “As to your specific question about When Harry Became Sally, we have chosen not to sell books that frame LGBTQ+ identity as a mental illness.”
Anderson and his publisher, Roger Kimball of Encounter Books, issued a statement in response to Amazon’s letter.
“Everyone agrees that gender dysphoria is a serious condition that causes great suffering,” the statement reads. “There is a debate, however, which Amazon is seeking to shut down, about how best to treat patients who experience gender dysphoria. When Harry Became Sally is an important contribution, praised by medical experts, to that conversation.
“No good comes from shutting down a debate about important matters on which reasonable people of good will disagree. Amazon is using its massive power to distort the marketplace of ideas and is deceiving its own customers in the process.”
Anderson also expressed his reaction on Twitter.
“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.”
Anderson was referring to a February 27 op-ed in the New York Times that accused him of referring to those suffering from gender dysphoria as “crazy,” worthy of “scorn, contempt and belittlement.”
Responding via an article in The Daily Signal, Anderson countered: “Good luck finding a single line from my book to back up either claim. I wrote nothing of the sort. On the contrary, at several points in the book I admonish my fellow social conservatives not to treat people who identify as transgender with ‘scorn, contempt and belittlement.’”
Bezos is also the owner of The Washington Post, which has previously mischaracterized Anderson’s book in the same manner, only to correct it after the fact.
“Read this thread,” Anderson tweeted on Friday. “Three years ago Jeff Bezos-owned Washington Post made false statements about me and my book (which they subsequently silently corrected—see the thread). Now Bezos-owned Amazon is repeating those falsehoods as justification for cancelling my book.”
Those “false statements” he was referring to had to do with the untrue claim – now repeated by Amazon – that Anderson wrote that transgender people are “mentally ill.” The Washington Post later deleted that claim, as this Twitter thread explains.
The four senators who wrote to Bezos have not yet responded publicly to his letter. When Harry Became Sally is still available through Encounter Books and other booksellers.
If you encounter someone struggling with their identity as male or female, above all else, be compassionate. Focus on the Family provides numerous resources on the subject that can help you navigate this issue.
A Biblical Perspective on Transgender Identity: A Primer for Parents and Strugglers
Resources for Transgenderism and Gender Identity Confusion
Photo from Encounter Books