ABA Apologizes for ‘Anti-Trans’ Title

But what about an apology for the apology?

Last week, the American Booksellers Association (ABA) took some heat for including Abigail Shrier’s book, Irreversible Damage, in a promotional box to more than 750 member stores. Recipients found the choice insensitive at best and actively harmful to trans booksellers and stakeholders. And then when the ABA tried to apologize, it took even hotter heat from conservative and anti-censorship voices. All in all, it was a tough week for the ol’ ABA.

The ABA, whose tweets are now private, quickly issued a statement calling the inclusion of Shrier’s book “a serious and violent incident that goes against ABA’s policies.” Later, in an email, CEO Allison Hill also apologized for another recent gaffe, in which they confused the cover of Blackout by conservative author Candace Owens  with the cover of young adult novel Blackout, written by six black women on the ABA’s indie bestsellers list.

“I want to apologize for both of these harms and for the pain that ABA has caused,” said Hill’s statement. “But I know only action matters.” Both statements vow to take concrete action to remedy whatever procedures lead to these missteps.

Yet booksellers and others outraged by the ABA’s recent behavior think the apologies are not enough. The Washington Post and Publishers Weekly cite stakeholders who ask that the ABA give books by trans authors free space in future promotional mailings.

Shrier’s book, which I’ve previously covered, is a deep dive into what the book calls the “trans epidemic,” and offers data and advice for parents of children who may identify as trans. Here’s a good thread debunking some of what she presents as fact.

Nevertheless, Shrier’s champions online defend her right to do so and further, think it’s reasonable for the ABA to promote her book like they would any other.

The Washington Post reports that sales of Irreversible Damage surged last week, as they did back in November when Target pulled Shrier’s novel from its shelves.


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Katie Smith

Katie Smith is a Philadelphia-based writer. Find her on Instagram @saddy_yankee for cat pics.

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