Well, that backfired.
Amazon on Thursday announced plans to stop selling all books that frame transgender and other sexual identities as mental illness, a decision it reached after four Republican senators complained to CEO Jeff Bezos last month when the company pulled a single book on the subject from its virtual shelves.
In his response to the senators Thursday, Brian Huseman, Amazon’s vice president for public policy, said the company’s content guidelines are updated regularly, sometimes resulting in the removal of previously approved books.
The company hadn’t intended to single out one book, he explained. Rather, it will be banning the entire category altogether.
“We reserve the right not to sell certain content,” Huseman wrote. “All retailers make decisions about what selection they choose to offer, as do we.
“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.”
The book, “When Harry Became Sally: Responding to the Transgender Moment,” had been available on Amazon for three years prior to its removal in February.
Its sudden disappearance from Amazon’s store prompted Republican Sens. Marco Rubio (Fla.), Mike Lee (Utah), Mike Braun (Ind.) and Josh Hawley (Mo.) to accuse the e-commerce giant of political censorship “for the the crime of violating woke groupthink.”
The men also accused Amazon of having “a vague, undefined ‘offensive content’ standard” that had been inappropriately invoked to justify a single book’s removal, noting that it had previously been allowed to be sold.
Responding to that claim Thursday, Huseman noted that Amazon has clarified its content guidelines. The company now explicitly bars “books that frame LGBTQ+ identity as a mental illness.”