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Amazon's Harm

As a software engineer, and a leader of software engineers, I often think about the user experience. Almost every piece of software I have worked on, or been responsible for, has had a connection to the average consumer. Awareness of the consumer is critical.

A trans author, Shon Faye, has written a book called The Transgender Issue: An Argument for Justice. It is extremely well regarded, addresses a number of issues facing trans people, and I want to read it. Shon is born, and resides, in the UK, so the book has been published there. In any event, lots of books written for and against trans people have come from the UK and I figured I would be able to buy it here...

Well, turns out that is not only not true, but when I search Shon Faye on Amazon, they return to me a list of recommended hate screeds by bigoted UK transphobes instead.

Think about that for a second: Amazon knows who Shon Faye is and that she is writing trans material. 

Amazon has built their data and query infrastructure to presume that people searching on trans issues are materially looking for anti-trans writing and they optimized results for that. So, instead of showing me results from other trans authors, they showed me bigots.

More specifically, they showed me bigots who are explcitely seeking to harm and exclude trans people from society. They write to generate hate and disgust of trans people and they don't really care if trans people are hurt in the process. Somehow Amazon sees fit to carry that in Canada, but not the positive trans writings of a trans author. Then they flog that material to people looking for trans positive writings. I call that harm.

It's definitely harm. Good luck getting through to anyone at Amazon to actually address it though. Have you tried their "Contact Us" options? LOL, right. This is exactly how harm perpetuates.

So what this really comes down to, as it always does, is that the vast majority of this software is written by cishet white men and they think of none but themselves. The evidence of that is all around us in machine learning, facial recognition, and search algorithms. 

It's continuing to cause harm.


While you're here, you might like:

Getting to Your O Face on HRT

I recently read an article on The Mary Sue on transfeminine pleasure  and I think about how little we really talk about this concept, as though we're not really entitled to it or something.

Art & The Artist

So, I've posted more than a few times on Facebook about a particular author and the harm she is causing the trans community. More than a few people have made the argument that they can condemn the artist and love the art. Can they?

Yes, I'm envious...

This is the Alice Cos Group , a dance group from China that features only males in their cast. They are all, to put it mildly, simply gorgeous and dammit, I'm just a little jealous! Admittedly, at my current age (let's just say that I go back a few decades and leave it at that) there is zero chance that I would ever be able to pull off the look even remotely as well as they can, but hey, a gal can dream! I'm also really jealous that they actually live a life practically straight out of a Fictionmania story; I would have leapt at such a chance at that age. Ah well, such is the dice of life. Anyways, a sample of their work: