Amazon's bestselling LGBTQ book is a hateful picture book comparing being trans to pretending to be a walrus
The Daily Wire’s Matt Walsh: “I'm an LGBT author” and “one of the leading LGBT voices in the country right now according to Amazon and I embrace that.”
Update (12/10/21): After Media Matters’ reporting, Amazon removed Johnny the Walrus from its “LGBTQ+ Books” section and added it to its “Political Commentary & Opinion” section.
The bestselling “LGBTQ+ Book” on Amazon is Johnny the Walrus -- a hateful picture book by The Daily Wire’s Matt Walsh that compares the gender identities of trans youth to a young boy who imagines he is a walrus. Amazon mislabeled the book into its LGBTQ+ Books section and, as a result, is promoting harmful anti-trans views to its consumers interested in LGBTQ stories.
Walsh is a prominent podcast host at The Daily Wire, a right-wing media outlet and a cesspool of bigotry and hatred which frequently targets the LGBTQ community. Walsh himself has a long record of espousing extreme anti-LGBTQ rhetoric, including falsely comparing best practice medical care for trans youth to “molestation and rape” and calling doctors who serve trans youth “pedophiles” -- and now he has used Amazon’s mislabeling to claim he is an “LGBT author” and “one of the leading LGBT voices in the country.”
Johnny the Walrus is a gross misrepresentation of the experiences of trans youth
Johnny the Walrus is an anti-trans allegory that compares a child imagining that he is a walrus to society affirming and accepting trans youth, including by providing lifesaving, best practice medical care when kids go through puberty. In reality, research shows that transgender youth are best able to succeed when their teachers and families accept and affirm their gender identity, which has been proven to reduce their risk of experiencing depression, homelessness, and suicidal ideation.
The description for the children’s board book claims that it is about “a little boy with a big imagination” named Johnny who “forced to make a decision between the little boy he is and the things he pretends to be.” The book depicts Johnny first pretending to be a walrus by using wood spoons as tusks and socks as fins, then going through the process of trying to become a walrus by eating worms, putting on gray makeup, and visiting a doctor who offers a “simple procedure” to cut his “feet into fins!”
Notably, Amazon has faced backlash for selling anti-trans books in the past. The company continues to sell the book Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters by anti-trans author Abigail Shrier, even though Amazon employees filed an internal complaint in April claiming that the book violates the company’s policy against selling books “that frame LGBTQ+ identity as a mental illness.”
Johnny the Walrus’s position atop Amazon’s bestselling LGBTQ books list comes at a time when right-wing advocates and Republican officials are seeking to ban LGBTQ books in schools. These critics have targeted LGBTQ books for their so-called “sexually explicit” material, including falsely claiming that one promoted pedophilia.
On Fox News, Walsh gloated that he is “an LGBT author” and “one of the leading LGBT voices right now according to Amazon”
During the December 7 edition of Fox News’ The Ingraham Angle, Walsh promoted his book and stated that Amazon “did this on their own. They listed it as an LGBT book.” He also noted that his book is “the top-selling LGBT book. So I'm an LGBT author” and “one of the leading LGBT voices in the country right now according to Amazon, and I embrace that.”
Numerous other right-wing media outlets have promoted Walsh’s anti-trans picture book. The Daily Wire has hyped the book and bragged about its labeling as an LGBT book in several articles and videos, including a video of Walsh reading the book to a group of children. The outlet is also selling Johnny the Walrus t-shirts.