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Amazon won’t remove book advocates who endanger transgender youth

Amazon is still selling a book that its advocates say perpetuates the idea that being transgender is harmful to young people and that you need to “heal.”

The book, “Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters,” by journalist Abigail Shrier, explores what Shrier calls an “epidemic” of young girls dating as trans.

“A generation of girls is in danger,” reads Amazon’s description of the book. “Abigail Shrier’s essential book will help you understand what the trans craze is and how you can immunize your child against it – or how to get her back from this dangerous path.”

Dozens of Amazon employees, some of whom are LGBTQ, filed an internal complaint in April, claiming the book violated Amazon’s policy against selling books “that portray LGBTQ + identity as a mental illness.” , according to the Seattle Times, which received footage of the complaint. .

“Irreversible Damage,” by Abigail Shrier.Regnery Edition

But on April 23, the company’s director of risk and book content quality announced on an internal bulletin board that Amazon would continue to sell the book.

“After reviewing the book’s content in detail and calibrated with senior management, we confirmed that it did not violate our content policy,” the director wrote, according to the Seattle Times.

Not all of the board members who reviewed the book agreed with the company’s decision. The Seattle Times cited Slack posts in which at least one employee involved in the review process said, “We told them it was transphobic and needed to be taken out.”

An Amazon spokesperson told NBC News in an email: “As a bookseller, we believe that providing access to a written speech and a variety of perspectives is one of the most important things. important things we do – even when those views differ from our own positions or those of Amazon. . “

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has vocally supported LGBTQ rights in the past. In 2012, he donated $ 2.5 million to marriage equality advocates. The company also recently joined a list of companies that support the Equality Act – a bill that would provide LGBTQ people with federal protections against discrimination in housing, education, public accommodation and living. other areas of life. Amazon also signed a recent Human Rights Campaign letter condemning states that pass anti-LGBTQ legislation, including bills targeting transgender youth.

Shrier defended the contents of the book, writing on Twitter with a link to the Seattle Times article on Amazon’s decision: “Anyone Who Thinks My Book ‘Advances A Tale Of Transgender Identity As A Disease’ Has Not Read It Or Is A Good Idiot faith.”

She writes in the book’s introduction that it’s “not about transgender adults,” but what she says is an increasing number of children being assigned to women at birth who identify as transgender. She told the Seattle Times that her book in no way takes a position against the transition of adults, but that she opposes “accelerating the transition of young people” to the medical transition.

Shrier did not immediately respond to NBC News’ request for comment.

Trans activists and doctors who treat trans youth oppose Shrier’s book because they say it poses a danger to young people and spreads misinformation. Medical experts have said trans minors are never “rushed” into medical transition. Instead, international medical guidelines recommend that prepubescent youth make a social transition and receive mental health therapy.

Dr Jack Turban, a researcher in child and adolescent psychiatry at Stanford University School of Medicine, where he studies the mental health of transgender youth, said the book “promotes the idea that transgender youth are ‘confused’ and that gender diversity is something to be looked after. ‘”

“All the major medical organizations involved (the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Psychiatric Association, and the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, to name a few) disagree with this position,” he said. Turban said in an email. “A recent study by our group found that attempts to force transgender people to be cisgender are strongly associated with suicide attempts.”

The ideas in Shrier’s book, Turban said, could have negative effects on the mental health of transgender youth. “Research consistently shows that family rejection of a young person’s gender identity is a major predictor of poor mental health outcomes, including suicide attempts,” Turban said. “This book promotes this kind of family rejection. I cannot stress enough how dangerous this is from a public mental health perspective.

In November, Target said it would remove Shrier’s book from shelves after backlash from LGBTQ advocates. But he overturned the decision after critics said he was removing Shrier’s free speech rights. At the time, trans people and activists condemned Target’s decision.

Shrier and her book came under fire again when she testified against the equality law at a Senate hearing in March.

But she has also received a wave of support in part from people who argue that books of any kind should not be censored.

Nadine Strossen, former president of the American Civil Liberties Union and law professor at the New York Law School, said she had not read Shrier’s book, but “whatever” the book said. think this should continue to be published and sold as part of free speech.

She said she recently tried to persuade a publisher to continue publishing Hitler’s autobiography “Mien Kampf,” “and this is not despite the fact that my father barely survived the Holocaust. – it is because of this fact, “said Strossen, adding that she believed free speech is” the most effective way to extend the rights, security and dignity of any individual or group, but, in especially those who have traditionally been marginalized and oppressed. “

Whatever the good intention, the suppression of speech does more harm than good, Strossen said. First, she argued that it paid even more attention to the censored person and their speech. Second, she said anti-trans people can make people like Shrier “martyrs for free speech.”

She said the removal could also create what is known as the Forbidden Fruit Effect or the Streisand Effect – after Barbra Streisand, who in 2003 attempted to have pictures of her house in Malibu taken on the internet, which sparked more public interest in the photos.

“A lot of people think, ‘Oh, that idea … people who try to suppress it must be really threatened by the idea, let me take a look at it,” “Strossen said of what happens when ideas or speeches are suppressed. “And so the idea, paradoxically, gains credibility.”

She said she believed that “the more dangerous an idea” the more important it is that the idea be understood and dealt with by those who can explain why it is wrong and dangerous.

In the case of Shrier’s book, Strossen said, it’s important that people who support trans youth can show that “if you really care about health and life, mental health and physical health and equality of well-being and dignity of these young people, these ideas are false and erroneous. “

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