Culture Jul 16, 2021 8:24 PM EST

Amazon workers quit, booksellers apologize over book that seeks better mental health treatment for girls

The inclusion of this popular book in their July "white box" was a "serious, violent, incident," the American Booksellers Association said. Its continued sale on Amazon prompted two employees to quit.

Amazon workers quit, booksellers apologize over book that seeks better mental health treatment for girls
Libby Emmons Brooklyn, NY
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The American Booksellers Association apologized this week for having sent out Abigail Shrier's Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters to booksellers. The inclusion of this popular book in their July "white box" was a "serious, violent, incident," they said. Its continued sale on Amazon prompted two employees to quit.

The statement the ABA issued read: "An anti-trans book was included in our July mailing to members. This is a serious, violent incident that goes against ABA's ends policies, values, and everything we believe and support. It is inexcusable."

ABA wrote that "We apologize to our trans members and to the trans community for this terrible incident and the pain we caused them. We also apologize to the LGBTQIA+ community at large, and to our bookselling community."

The association promised they would take action, and then the ABA locked their Twitter account.

Amazon employees have staged resignations and protests over the book, saying that the book "frames young people who identify as transgender as mentally ill."

In defense of the book, Thomas Spence of publisher Regnery, said that "In a sea of materials uncritically promoting medical 'transition' for teenage girls with little to no oversight, there is one book that responsibly investigates the question and urges caution."

Yet Amazon employees posted a complaint to the company's internal message board, NBC reports, that "drew the support of over 467 Amazon corporate employees."

The petition from Amazon employees demanded that Shrier's book be removed from the site. Amazon has not taken it down, and it is "currently listed as the first, second and third bestsellers — for the hardcover, softcover and Kindle editions — in Amazon’s category of "LGBTQ+ Demographic Studies,'" which may have something to do with their hesitancy to pull the title.

Selene Xenia was one of those employees who took issue with Shrier's work being available for sale. Xenia told NBC that they were pleased when Amazon pulled another gender critical title, When Harry Became Sally: Responding to the Transgender Moment, saying that it framed trans identity, something to which Xenia subscribes, in ways Xenia didn't like. Xenia left when Shrier's book wasn't banned as well.

"The book literally has [craze] in the title and considers being transgender a mental illness in many senses throughout the book," Xenia told NBC.

"I found it extremely hypocritical for Amazon to say that it would stock this book and not another similar one," Xenia said. "It looks like Amazon had to remove that particular book for PR reasons, not because they felt morally obligated to."

It was booksellers who shot back at the ABA after sending out the title to 750 bookstores. Brooklyn's Greenlight Bookstores received the box, and "Casey" was aghast to find a book that was critical of medicalizing children due to gender dysphoria.

"@ABAbook I’m seething," Casey wrote. "I was excited to open our July white box, and then the first book I pulled out is 'Irreversible Damage.' Do you know how that feels, as a trans bookseller and book buyer? It isn't even a new title, so it really caught me in the gut. Do better."

"Among booksellers, however," Publishers Weekly reported, "there was little disagreement about the content of the book."

They quoted the Harvard Bookstore, which said on Twitter: "As longtime @ABAbook members with beloved staff across the gender spectrum, we're extremely disappointed and angered to see the ABA promoting dangerous, widely discredited anti-trans propaganda, and we're calling for accountability."

Shrier's publisher, Regnery, published the book in 2020, and they were apparently surprised that the ABA characterized the book's distribution to booksellers as "an act of violence."

Spence told Publisher's Weekly that "The only explanation I can think of for the ABA's statement that credits them with a rational (though dishonorable) motive is that they're trying to drum up publicity for their annual Banned Books Week promotion, coming in September (this year's slogan: 'Censorship Divides Us'). Perhaps finding books that have been 'banned,' in any meaningful sense, is so difficult that they have been forced to do the dirty work themselves."

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