Amazon says it 'won't sell books that frame LGBTQ+ identity as a mental illness'

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Online retailing giant Amazon told senators on Thursday that it would no longer list a conservative book critiquing the "transgender moment" or any others "that frame LGBTQ+ identity as a mental illness."

The letter came amid an uproar over the company's decision to stop selling conservative author Ryan T. Anderson's book, "When Harry Became Sally: Responding to the Transgender Moment," which was published in 2018 and reached the top of the site's best-seller lists.

Sens. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., Josh Hawley, R-Mo., Mike Braun, R-Ind., and Mike Lee, R-Utah sent a letter to Amazon in February shortly after Anderson noted the removal of his book on the site.

"We carefully consider the content we make available in our stores, and we review our approach regularly," Amazon said, responding to a question from the senators about why the book had originally been allowed on the site. "As described above, we have chosen not to sell books that frame LGBTQ+ identity as a mental illness."

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"By removing this book from its marketplaces and services, Amazon has unabashedly wielded its outsized market share to silence an important voice merely for the crime of violating woke groupthink," the senators said at the time of the letter.

Anderson's publisher, Encounter Books, had reportedly said it was informed that the book violated Amazon's content guidelines. The specific reason was unclear at the time it was informed.

Anderson responded on Thursday, arguing: "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."

On its website, the American Psychiatric Association suggests that not everyone who identifies as transgender experiences dysphoria.

"The term 'transgender' refers to a person whose sex assigned at birth (i.e. the sex assigned by a physician at birth, usually based on external genitalia) does not match their gender identity (i.e., one’s psychological sense of their gender)," it reads.

"Some people who are transgender will experience 'gender dysphoria,' which refers to psychological distress that results from an incongruence between one’s sex assigned at birth and one’s gender identity."

Medical associations and liberal groups like the Human Rights Campaign assert that gender is more complicated than some have suggested. “Gender identity and assigned sex at birth can be different one from the other, and that difference needs to be recognized in order to effectively guarantee access to care for transgender people,” read a 2018 letter from dozens of health groups, including the American Psychiatric Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, and Endocrine Society.

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Anderson's book cites Dr. Paul McHugh, a Johns Hopkins professor who previously served as psychiatrist-in-chief at the university's hospital. McHugh has said, "Transgendered men do not become women, nor do transgendered women become men" and "All … become feminized men or masculinized women, counterfeits or impersonators of the sex with which they ‘identify.’ In that lies their problematic future."

The American College of Pediatricians has similarly condemned treatments like puberty blockers for children. In 2019, the group called on the surgeon general to investigate those types of treatments.

Amazon declined to comment.

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