You may have heard by now that Amazon has banned from all of their sales channels Ryan T. Anderson’s excellent book, When Harry Became Sally: Responding to the Transgender Moment (Encounter Books, 2018).
At First Things, Anderson writes about the controversy:
The people who did read the book discovered that it is an accurate and accessible presentation of the scientific, medical, philosophical, and legal debates surrounding the trans phenomenon. Yes, it advances an argument against transgender ideology from a viewpoint. But it doesn’t get any facts wrong, and it doesn’t engage in heated rhetoric.
Moreover, it was praised by experts: the former psychiatrist-in-chief at Johns Hopkins Hospital, a longtime psychology professor at NYU, a professor of medical ethics at Columbia Medical School, a professor of psychological and brain sciences at Boston University, a professor of neurobiology at the University of Utah, a distinguished professor at Harvard Law School, an eminent legal philosopher at Oxford, and a professor of jurisprudence at Princeton.
But for a heretic-hunting Left, none of that matters. It’s not about how you say it, or how rigorously you argue it, or how charitably you present it. It’s about whether you affirm or dissent from the new orthodoxy of gender ideology.
The editors at National Review call attention to Anderson’s intellectual credentials but also his calm, clear, and compassionate disposition as an advocate for truth in the public square:
Anderson, who is the president of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, represents what might be called the Princeton School of social conservatism, and he has published works in association with scholars such as Robert P. George, among others. He is a serious thinker and analyst (after Princeton he took a doctorate in political philosophy from Notre Dame), not a Breitbart troll.
They go on to write:
The book, published in 2018, recently has been removed from Amazon, as well as from Amazon subsidiaries Kindle, Audible, and AbeBooks. Amazon maintains, in theory, a policy of contacting publishers and discussing the removal of controversial books before acting, but Amazon has not followed that policy in this case. At least the traditional sort of book-burners felt the need to explain themselves.
Alan Jacobs comments:
To me, the most interesting point for reflection is this: The censors at Amazon clearly believe there is only one reason to read a book. You read a book because you agree with it and want it to confirm what you already believe. Imagine, for instance, a transgender activist who wants to understand the position held by Ryan Anderson and people like him in order better to refute it. That person can’t get a copy of the book through Amazon any more than a sympathetic reader like me can.
But another, deeper belief lies beneath that one: It’s that ideas like Anderson’s are not to be refuted but rather, insofar as it lies within Amazon’s vast power, erased — subjected to Damnatio memoriae. And the interesting thing about that practice is that it is simultaneously an assertion of power and a confession of weakness. Amazon is flexing its muscles, but muscles are all it has. Its censors don’t want anyone to read Anderson’s book because they know that they can’t refute it. They have no thoughts, no knowledge — only reflexes. And reflexes will serve their cause. For now.
Just the News was able to reach Amazon for comment and provide this update:
Amazon declined to provide any explanation, offering instead a link to its book content policy.
A review of those policies suggests that sometime in the last few months Amazon made a major change to the ways in which it moderates book content on its servers, imposing a much stricter standard on books than it had previously done.
The link provided by Amazon this week claims in part that, where books are concerned, the company “[doesn’t] sell certain content including content that we determine is hate speech … or other material we deem inappropriate or offensive.”
Internet archives show that as recently as August of last year, Amazon’s book content policy did not include any mention of “hate speech.” At that time, the company stated only that “we reserve the right not to sell certain content, such as pornography or other inappropriate content.”
On the older page, the company directed users to “guidelines for other categories of products,” such as products featuring “offensive and controversial material.” That policy stipulated in part that Amazon “does not allow products that promote, incite or glorify hatred,” but the rule explicitly noted that the policy did not apply to books.
The company did not reply to a followup query asking when the policy had been changed, and why.
So if you want to hear for yourself the sort of arguments that can get you banned from Amazon, watch the talk at the top of this post, or see the information about the book below. The book can be purchased directly from the publisher or from retailers like Barnes and Noble. (For now.)
Can a boy be “trapped” in a girl’s body? Can modern medicine “reassign” sex? Is our sex “assigned” to us in the first place? What is the most loving response to a person experiencing a conflicted sense of gender? What should our law say on matters of “gender identity”?
When Harry Became Sally provides thoughtful answers to questions arising from our transgender moment. Drawing on the best insights from biology, psychology, and philosophy, Ryan Anderson 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.
This book exposes the contrast between the media’s sunny depiction of gender fluidity and the often sad reality of living with gender dysphoria. It gives a voice to people who tried to “transition” by changing their bodies, and found themselves no better off. Especially troubling are the stories told by adults who were encouraged to transition as children but later regretted subjecting themselves to those drastic procedures.
As Anderson shows, the most beneficial therapies focus on helping people accept themselves and live in harmony with their bodies. This understanding is vital for parents with children in schools where counselors may steer a child toward transitioning behind their backs.
Everyone has something at stake in the controversies over transgender ideology, when misguided “antidiscrimination” policies allow biological men into women’s restrooms and penalize Americans who hold to the truth about human nature. Anderson offers a strategy for pushing back with principle and prudence, compassion and grace.
Table of Contents
- Our Transgender Moment
- What the Activists Say
- Detransitioners Tell Their Stories
- What Makes Us a Man or a Woman
- Transgender Identity and Sex “Reassignment”
“During this ‘transgender moment,’ a government-enforced tyranny of false presumptions about nature besieges the American family. When Harry Became Sally provides the empirical information needed to refute the transgender suppositions, and—in a most original way—makes historic sense of this social misdirection by noting how the ‘gender-fluid’ pseudo-scientific claims of today’s transgender ideologues derive from dubious arguments previously passed around amongst second-wave feminists. Learn from Ryan Anderson how another craze about the workings of the mind has come to beset American households and put thousands of people at risk.”
—Paul McHugh, University Distinguished Service Professor of Psychiatry, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
“When Harry Became Sally is an eminently readable and insightful guide for all who find themselves perplexed by today’s debates on gender identity. Ryan Anderson’s analysis of the ideas that are fueling the transgender movement, their human costs and their political implications will be a valuable resource for parents, educators and policy makers.”
—Mary Ann Glendon, Learned Hand Professor of Law, Harvard University, and author of Rights Talk and A Nation Under Lawyers
“For an informed and sensitive presentation of gender identity issues, When Harry Became Sally is a must-read book. It is especially a must for those in psychiatry, psychology and counseling.”
—Paul Vitz, Professor Emeritus of Psychology, New York University, and Senior Scholar, Institute for the Psychological Sciences
“I always read Ryan Anderson with great admiration. When Harry Became Sally is an always focused, informative, fair-minded, lucid and fact-based guide to just and reasonable policies in place of government– and corporation-mandated falsification of science, medicine, public records and history; suppression of free speech and family rights; and many-sided, often irreversible injustice to the vulnerable.”
—John Finnis, Professor of Law & Legal Philosophy Emeritus, University of Oxford
“‘Do no harm’ is a fundamental tenet of medical ethics. But sadly—as shown by Ryan Anderson’s careful examination of the research—people with gender dysphoria are now commonly given treatments that involve grave health hazards and few (if any) lasting benefits. Regardless of political persuasion, all concerned citizens, especially parents, policymakers, and healthcare professionals, should give serious consideration to the evidence presented in this thoughtful and balanced book.”
—Melissa Moschella, Assistant Professor of Medical Ethics, Department of Medicine, Columbia University
“Ryan Anderson forthrightly calls out the suspension of disbelief that has led us into ever more bizarre denials of reality, blindfolding our eyes and our heads in the name of political ideology and ensuring the suffering of the mentally ill. Everyone concerned with the welfare of children should read When Harry Became Sally.”
—Margaret A. Hagen, Professor of Psychological and Brain Sciences, Boston University
“People who experience gender dysphoria deserve to be treated with compassion, kindness, and respect—just like everyone else. It is wrong to despise them, ridicule them, or disrespect them in other ways. As Ryan Anderson shows in his rigorously argued critique of transgender ideology, we can speak and stand up for the truth while loving those who identify as transgender as our neighbors. When Harry Became Sally confirms Anderson’s standing as one of our nation’s most gifted young intellectuals, and without doubt the most fearless.”
—Robert P. George, McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence, Princeton University.
“Ryan Anderson takes up the challenging topic of the ‘transgender moment’ in a clear and biologically well-informed manner. He writes in a thoughtful and accessible manner, and he succeeds in his goal of providing ‘a sober and honest survey of the human costs of getting human nature wrong.’ When Harry Became Sally raises important questions for anyone who is sincerely concerned about the wellbeing of those struggling with their gender identity.”
—Maureen Condic, Associate Professor of Neurobiology and Anatomy, University of Utah