In a statement Wednesday, the American Booksellers Association (ABA) apologized for promoting Abigail Shrier’s “Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters,” calling its oversight in releasing it a “serious, violent incident.”
ABA sent Shrier’s title along with others to 750 bookstores in its July “white box” mailing, Publishers Weekly reported.
“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,” the statement read.
“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,” it added.
Through the box program, publishers pay ABA to provide advance copies of books, sales sheets, book marks, and other items, which are then mailed to booksellers.
The premise of “Irreversible Damage” is that there is an social contagion effect of young girls rushing into invasive medical procedures for gender dysphoria which they are likely to regret later.
ABA leaders expressed disgust with the organization’s actions and demanded significant improvements to its book promotion process that would flag and prevent such allegedly politically incorrect books from making the cut. Many of them believe the ABA’s apology didn’t go far enough.
The ABA Board of Directors, also booksellers, emailed members, “These incidents harmed booksellers, ABA board members, and ABA staff who identify as LGBTQIA+ and/or BIPOC, as well as the wider community. They also added to a toxic culture overall.”
“We are not the ABA of two years ago. These actions are antithetical to the values we are working to promote in our organization under the strong leadership of our CEO, Allison Hill, and COO, Joy Dallanegra-Sanger. This is not acceptable behavior and goes against the bylaws changes instituted last year,” they continued.
ABA CEO Allison Hill released an supplementary statement to booksellers apologizing both for the promotion of Shrier’s book and a ‘racist’ episode last week in which the organization featured the wrong cover image for “Blackout” by Dhonielle Clayton, Tiffany D. Jackson, Nic Stone, Angie Thomas, Ashley Woodfolk, and Nicola Yoon on its Indie Next bestseller list.
Instead, the ABA posted a book cover by an author who Hill called “a different Black author, a right-wing extremist,” presumed to be political commentator Candace Owens, who wrote a book with the same title.
“We traumatized and endangered members of the trans community. We erased Black authors, conflated Black authors, and put the authors in danger through a forced association. We further marginalized communities we want to support,” Hill wrote.
She confirmed that ABA will take substantive steps to rectify the injury caused by both events, saying “[t]here is nothing that I can say that will make this right. This should not have happened. I want to apologize for both of these harms and for the pain that ABA caused. But I know only action matters. These were egregious, harmful acts that caused violence and pain. One negligent, irresponsible, and racist; the other negligent, irresponsible, and transphobic.”