This week, Ryan Anderson discovered that Amazon had removed his book, When Harry became Sally: Responding to the Transgender Moment, from its online store.
Anderson is the President of the Ethics and Public Policy Center (EPPC), and the Founding Editor of Public Discourse, the online journal of the Witherspoon Institute of Princeton, New Jersey. In his book When Harry Became Sally, which was released on Feb. 20, 2018, Anderson takes a critical look at the transgender movement and “offers a nuanced view of human embodiment, a balanced approach to public policy on gender identity, and a sober assessment of the human costs of getting human nature wrong.”
On Feb. 21, almost exactly three years after the book’s release, Anderson announced that his book was evidently no longer available for purchase on Amazon.
“No one from Amazon notified me or my publisher,” Anderson told the Daily Caller News Foundation. “My publisher has reached out, but still no response.”
The implications of this are far-reaching.
“As an author, I know the importance of Amazon for allowing people to use and discover good books. Which is why I’m very troubled that the ‘everything store’ allows for the sale of many books I personally find reprehensible but has removed Ryan’s thoughtful, wise, important book on transgender issues,” said Daniel Darling, Senior Vice President of Communications at NRB. “This book has helped many parents, teens, and educators. Hopefully, they will revisit their decision and explain their process.”
The book was initially met with backlash when it hit the Amazon Bestseller list following its 2018 release.
“People who have actually read my book discovered that it was a thoughtful and accessible presentation of the state of the scientific, medical, philosophical, and legal debates,” Anderson said. “Yes, it advances an argument from a certain viewpoint. No, it didn’t get any facts wrong, and it didn’t engage in any name-calling.”
The book’s removal from Amazon came the same week that the U.S. House of Representatives will hold a vote on the Equality Act, a bill which would add “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” as protected classes under the 1964 Civil Rights Act.
“Amazon is not silencing conversations about the transgender issue– it is silencing one side of the conversation,” said Mary Rice Hasson, director of the Catholic Women’s Forum and a Kate O’Beirne Fellow at the EPPC.
Anderson’s book happened to fall on the “wrong” side of the conversation.
“It’s not about how you say it. It’s not about how rigorously you argue it. It’s not about how charitably you present it,” Anderson said. “It’s about whether you dissent from a new orthodoxy.”
In a tweet on Tuesday morning, Marco Rubio called this a “digital book burning.” And Amazon is not the only one participating.
In addition to Amazon removing the book from its cyber bookshelf, Apple also temporarily removed the book from Apple Books, and Twitter is now marking images of the cover as “sensitive content.”
On Tuesday morning, Anderson shared a piece that he wrote explaining the implications of this Big Tech censorship for himself and for the broader society.
“NRB is committed to making sure our members have access to online platforms,” Darling said. “We continue to call on Big Tech companies to adopt a fair, open, and transparent process in their decision making.”