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EDITORIAL | Free Speech Threatened by Hostility to Transgender Book

Critics' threats of violence against the publisher and sellers of "Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters" stifle free speech.



Cover of the Japanese translation of "Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters".

Improper interference with free speech, a core value of democracy, can never be tolerated. 

The Japanese translation of the book Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters just went on sale on April 3. However, threatening emails have been coming to bookstores and the publisher, Sankei Shimbun Publishing Inc (Sankei-Books). One of the messages, for example, warned that fires would be set at major bookstores on the day the book was released. 

As a result, Sankei Shimbun Publishing has filed a complaint with the Tokyo Metropolitan Police, alleging forcible obstruction of business. Some bookstores have even been forced to postpone the start of sales of the book. 

Article 21 of Japan's Constitution clearly states, "Freedom of assembly and association as well as speech, press and all other forms of expression are guaranteed." Threatening bookstores and publishers with violence to stifle free speech is an outrageous act. No matter what the ideological motive, it challenges the freedom and democracy enjoyed by Japanese citizens.

The Sankei Shimbun and Sankei Publishing will never succumb to such threats. Furthermore, we condemn such conduct in the strongest possible terms. 

What the Book is About

The nonfiction book in question was authored by the American journalist Abigail Shrier. It was originally published in the United States in 2020. In the book, Shrier documented several cases of young girls who got caught up in the current social media boom. They underwent gender-changing procedures but later came to regret the irreparable damage done to their bodies. 

The book was translated into various languages, such as German and French, and became a hot topic. 


Efforts to Silence the Book in Japan

Originally, the major Japanese publisher Kadokawa Corporation was due to release the translation under a different Japanese title. In English, the proposed title meant: "That Kid Too Went Transgender — The Tragedy of the Gender Change Boom Being Spread by Social Media."

Kadokawa headquarters in Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo. (©Sankei by Takumi Kamoshida)

However, Kadokawa was flooded by protests and complaints that the book fostered discrimination against transgender people. Therefore, in December 2023, Kadokawa decided not to publish the book after all. 

Subsequently, Sankei Books decided that it would go ahead and publish it. That was because Sankei felt a sense of crisis that a bestseller in the US and well-received in other countries might not be published in Japan. 

Naturally, LGBTQ individuals or other sexual minorities should not be subjected to discrimination. But, in the first place, this translated book does not encourage such discrimination. Despite that fact, the publisher still received emails pressing it to kill the book's publication.

Why It's Important

What is the current situation for children and families in the United States, where sexual diversity is becoming more and more commonplace? The book in question provides a glimpse at one facet of that trend. It aims to provide readers with material to encourage them to think deeply about the transgender issue. 

Individuals are welcome to take exception to the contents of this translated nonfiction book. However, they should confine their objections to the level of speech. Violence and intimidation are completely out of bounds.


(Read the editorial in Japanese.)

Author: Editorial Board, The Sankei Shimbun