Amazon Kicks Trans Employee Off Board of LGBTQ Group After Book Protest

  • Tensions inside Amazon are rising after employees protested the company’s selling of books that portray being transgender as a disease.
  • Last month, Amazon kicked a worker off the board of an LGBTQ employee group after she questioned the company’s stance on selling transphobic content.
  • In an email to colleagues, the employee said Amazon told her she was a “bad actor” exhibiting “blatant negativity.”

A transgender Amazon employee was asked to leave the board of a company-sponsored LGBTQ group after she questioned why Amazon sells transphobic books, according to leaked emails and people familiar with the matter.

The move roiled Amazon workers who have protested its decision to continue selling books like “Irreversible Damage” and “Johnny the Walrus” that portray being trans as deviant and are widely seen as hateful and transphobic.

Insiders also saw the ousting of Shannon Hauck, the employee who was removed from the board of the Glamazon LGBTQ employee group, as further evidence the company is not committed to hearing their concerns, according to conversations with three current and former Amazon employees.

Amazon’s refusal to stop selling transphobic books has emerged as a source of significant tension between employees and leadership in the past year. At least four workers have publicly resigned over the issue. A covert employee group, No Hate at Amazon, this spring gathered hundreds of employee signatures demanding the company stop selling the books. Earlier this month, nearly 30 employees staged a protest that disrupted an Amazon Pride Month celebration at its Seattle headquarters, accusing the company of “rainbow-washing” its reputation and once again demanding it stop selling the books.

Employees decided to protest after “exhausting all other avenues” of escalating the issue internally, a protest organizer told Insider in an interview. “We’ve seen the exact same pattern exert itself every time: A book is published, there’s a massive internal escalation” of employees writing trouble tickets and emails, “but Amazon takes no action.”

Amazon has said that it supports the transgender community and its trans employees. “As a company, we strongly believe in diversity, equity, and inclusion,” Amazon spokeswoman Kelly Nantel said in a statement to Insider. “As a bookseller, we’ve chosen to offer a very broad range of viewpoints, including books that conflict with our company values ​​and corporate positions. We believe that it’s possible to do both – to offer a broad range of viewpoints in our bookstore,” and support diversity, equity, and inclusion. ”

Employee activism over transphobic content at Amazon is part of a blossoming movement of tech workers protesting their company’s policies, including at Google, Twitter, and Facebook. Amazon’s corporate employees have also spoken out about the company’s climate impact and treatment of warehouse workers.

Hauck, who started at Amazon as a warehouse associate five years ago and now works in a corporate quality control role, according to her LinkedIn, joined the Glamazon board in February as its transgender engagement coordinator, according to one current Amazon employee familiar with the situation . Hauck declined to speak with Insider.

In early May, Hauck sent an email to a Glamazon listserv in response to a company-wide call for questions for Amazon’s worldwide consumer CEO Dave Clark, according to a screenshot of an email seen by Insider.

“I’m asking: Why does Amazon continue to do business with a fascist who takes pleasure in the trauma of Amazon associates?” she wrote, a reference to right-wing commentator Matt Walsh who wrote the anti-trans book “Johnny the Walrus.” The right-wing social media account Libs of TikTok this spring published an internal video of Amazon employees discussing Walsh’s book. Walsh discussed the video on social media and on right-wing news channels, including Fox News’ “Tucker Carlson Tonight.”

“Why is Amazon continuing to sell transphobic material?” Hauck continued. “Why does Amazon continue to tell transgender associates but still sells material that says we’re predators and need to be put in jail or worse? How Amazon can even begin to ‘Strive to be Earth’s Best Employer’ when it won’t listen to associates saying the company is WRONG? “

Within a week, Hauck had been asked to leave the board of Glamazon, according to another email she sent to the listserv on May 16. Hauck relayed that the group’s leadership cited her “blatant negativity” and told her she was a “bad actor,” “According to one current Amazon employee and one former Amazon employee familiar with the situation.

Insider previously reported that some workers have said they’ve lost faith in the Glamazon group to represent Amazon’s LGBTQ employees.

An Amazon spokesperson said that board members for Glamazon and other internal affinity groups, such as Amazon’s Black Employee Network, are expected to adhere to company policies. Affinity groups are self-directed, the spokesperson said, and boards can decide to remove one of their own members. The Glamazon board continues to have transgender representation.

The news of Hauck’s removal generated an outpouring of support for her along with confusion among Glamazon members, according to two employees. Hauck is a beloved figure within Amazon’s trans community, said former Amazon employee Lina Jodoin, who quit earlier this month over Amazon’s refusal to stop selling transphobic books.

“Shannon has been such a wonderful leader for the trans community at Amazon,” Jodoin said.

“She’s spent her time just… welcoming people, helping people find resources and escalating all sorts of trans issues at Amazon. She’s fixed so many sharp edges.”

Do you work at Amazon? Got a tip? Contact reporter Katherine Long via the encrypted messaging app Signal (+ 1-206-375-9280) or email (klong@insider.com).

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