Amazon Refuses to Stop Selling Anti-Trans Book

Two Amazon employees have quit over the online retailer’s refusal to stop selling an anti-trans book that has caused massive controversy since its release last June.

In April, 467 corporate Amazon employees supported an internal complaint against Irreversible Damage, a contentious book penned by Wall Street Journal columnist Abigail Shrier whose subtitle warns that the “transgender craze” is “seducing” young girls into transitioning. Employees claimed Shrier’s stance is not in line with an Amazon policy rolled out in March banning sales of books that position LGBTQ+ identities as mental illnesses, according to NBC News.

At least two workers reportedly resigned after Amazon affirmed in May that it would continue to allow retailers to sell Irreversible Damage on its platform. The company’s director of book content risk and quality claimed that the book “does not violate [its] content policy,” as the Seattle Times reported.

While Shrier does not explicitly run afoul of Amazon’s guidelines by likening transgender identities to mental disorders, her thesis is nonetheless harmful. As record numbers of LGBTQ+ youth live their most authentic lives, Shrier alleges that this phenomenon is due not to increasing societal acceptance but to what is often referred to as “rapid onset gender dysphoria.” She argues that young women have been influenced by “hip trans YouTube stars and ‘gender-affirming’ educators and therapists who push life-changing interventions on young girls.”

The underlying principle of Irreversible Damage is, thus, that being transgender has become trendy and that cis girls are hopping on the bandwagon because they think it’s cool. This is despite the fact that the notion of transness as a social contagion has been thoroughly criticized and referred to as “bad science.”

And considering that more than half of trans and nonbinary youth have considered taking their lives in the past year, according to the Trevor Project, it’s unlikely kids are coming out to fit in.

Shrier has repeatedly claimed that Irreversible Damage — which was released by the right-wing publishing house Regnery in June 2020 — is not transphobic. “Anyone who thinks my book ‘advances the narrative of transgender identity as a disease’ hasn’t read it, or is a bona fide idiot,” she tweeted on May 3 in response to a Seattle Times article about the controversy her book has stirred.

In an interview with Seattle Times, Shrier claimed her work respects decisions made by trans adults to live in accordance with their gender identity, while adding that her goal was to warn parents about the “fast-tracking of youth” into medical transitions. Even this assertion strains credulity: Children are subject to extensive screenings — including appointments with therapists, counselors, and endocrinologists — and often require multiple letters of consent before medical treatment can begin.

Dr. Jack Turban, a chief child psychiatry fellow at Stanford Medicine, noted in an op-ed for Psychology Today that Shrier failed to actually interview most of the teens whose stories she told. He added that it is “rare for transgender youth to later decide they are cisgender” after reaching adolescence.

Irreversible Damage has sparked not only backlash but also confusion over what to do about it. In November, Target said it would remove the book from its shelves, only to change its mind in a matter of hours after being criticized for “censorship.” Shrier claimed in March that Target had pulled the book again, and a search of the company’s website shows it is no longer available to purchase online.

Many say Amazon’s decision to continue allowing sales of Irreversible Damage puts the safety of trans youth at stake. Amazon employees are concerned that the book is the first result when searching transgender topics on its platform.

“Due to our success and scale, our customers will come to us seeking to educate themselves about their transgender children,” wrote an employee in an internal message board, as cited by NBC News. “We have a responsibility to make sure that we do not use our powerful market position to amplify the harm this book causes.”

A representative for Amazon has signaled the company won’t reverse its stance, even despite internal strife.

“As a bookseller, we believe that providing access to written speech and a variety of viewpoints is one of the most important things we do — even when those viewpoints differ from our own or Amazon’s stated positions,” spokesperson Cecelia Fan said in a statement to NBC News.


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