In an announcement that could have a major impact on Christian and conservative books on the subject, Amazon said in a letter late last week it had changed its policy and would no longer sell titles that label gender dysphoria or LGBT identity as a “mental illness.”
The March 11 letter to four Republican U.S. senators was in response to the delisting of When Harry Became Sally, a 2018 book by Ryan T. Anderson that is published by Encounter Books. The senators had asked Amazon to explain the delisting, warning it appeared to be an “assault on free speech.”
“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,” Amazon said in the letter.
Amazon acknowledged its policy had changed between 2018 – when the book was published – and now. It denied that the delisting was part of a wider campaign against conservatives.
“We offer customers across the political spectrum a wide variety of content that includes disparate opinions,” Amazon said.
Brian Huseman, vice president of public policy at Amazon, signed the letter.
Four GOP senators had signed the letter to Amazon: Sens. Marco Rubio (Fla.), Mike Lee (Utah), Mike Braun (Ind.) and Josh Hawley (Mo.).
The book challenges the modern belief that men and women can be trapped in the wrong body.
Anderson criticized Amazon’s reasoning.
“Everyone agrees that gender dysphoria is a serious condition that causes great suffering,” Anderson said in a statement Friday. “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.”
Encounter Books, in its own statement, said Amazon’s decision will have a major impact on the marketplace.
“If Amazon, which controls most of the book sales in America, has decided to delist a book with which some of its functionaries disagree, that is an unconscionable assault on free speech,” Encounter Book said. “It will have a chilling effect on the publishing industry and the free circulation of ideas. It must not be left to stand unchallenged.”
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Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.