In a public letter, Amazon announced that it will no longer sell books that frame gay, lesbian, transgender and other sexual identities as a mental illness. According to the Wall Street Journal, the US-based firm sent the letter to Republican senators who had asked why Amazon had stopped selling ‘When Harry Became Sally: Responding to the transgender Moment’, a book by conservative academic Ryan Anderson. Amazon said that the firm provides customers with access to a variety of viewpoints, including books that some customers may find objectionable.
The company added that it reserves the right not to sell certain content and all retailers, along with the firm, make decisions about what selection they choose to offer. Further, while responding to the Republicans’ questions relating to the book by Anderson, the firm said that they have chosen not to sell books that frame LGBTQ+ identity as a mental illness. It is worth noting that Amazon responded to the criticism from the right-wing senators Marco Rubio, Mike Lee, Mike Bryan and Josh Hawley who called the book removal a “signal to conservative Americans that their views are not welcome on its platform”.
According to reports, Amazon accounts for 53 per cent of all ebooks. Its latest move will have a significant impact on books that frame LGBTQ+ identities as mental illness. Moreover, the decision also comes at a moment when Republicans and the conservative movement are increasingly focused on the so-called “cancel culture”.
Meanwhile, a spokesperson for LGBT advocacy group GLAAD called Amazon’s decision a “positive step” and noted that there is an antiquated and shameful history of equating LGBTQ identity to mental illness. The spokesperson added that Amazon’s step will help end the misinformation campaign against the LGBTQ community, especially trans youth, meant only to cause harm. The group also called Anderson’s book “dangerous and harmful” to trans kids, and said that those who are looking for information about trans identity should not look to resources written by someone who has made their livelihood by publishing screeds against the trans community.