Waterstones has issued a statement after firing an “exemplary” bookseller who criticised an author for their gender-critical views.

Tilly Fitzgerald, a book influencer who shares reviews of novels on her TikTok page Tilly Loves Books, revealed that she was “sacked from the only job I’ve ever loved” for threatening to bin the books of Christina Dalcher.

“She’s not huge, but apparently she has enough sway to get me sacked,” Fitzgerald told her followers in a tearful Twitter/X video.

“I told her on Twitter that I was going to throw away her books after I found out that she was a bigot and just trying to get lots of other people in the publishing industry fired purely for standing up for trans rights.”

Fitzgerald criticised the author in late June after she voiced support for SEEN Publishing, a network launched for those who are “concerned about the impact of gender ideology”.

“Ooh I’ll enjoy tearing your books up and popping them in the bin today,” said Fitzgerald. “Thanks for the heads up.”

Although she explained in her video that her comments “weren’t trying to get anyone cancelled or taken off shop shelves”, Fitzgerald was subsequently fired from Waterstones.

“I was speaking of my choice to throw my own books of theirs away as I didn’t want to personally support them,” she said.

Tilly Fitzgerald/@tillylovesbooks

In an interview with The Independent, Fitzgerald said she’s “absolutely devastated that this escalated to me losing a job a love”.

While she acknowledged that her comments towards Dalcher were “a violation of the social media policy”, she said getting sacked “was disproportionate and a warning would have been more appropriate”.

News of Fitzgerald’s dismissal was met with widespread backlash online, with many condemning Waterstones for their alleged support of the LGBTQIA+ community during Pride Month, as well as their “hypocrisy”.

Twitter/X users highlighted how the account for Waterstones Leeds retweeted a gender-critical post from Trainspotting author Irvine Welsh, who questioned what a woman is.

India Willoughby wrote: “Having sacked a loyal member of staff for standing up against a transphobe online @Waterstones, I guess you’ll be firing the person at your Leeds branch that retweeted this from Irvine Welsh in the last 48 hrs – yes? What with you keen to be neutral on trans bigotry.”

@Philip_Ellis tweeted: “So @Waterstones bookseller @TillyLovesBooks can be fired for publicly disagreeing with a transphobic author, but you can retweet “what is a woman” guff from Irvine Welsh and keep your job?

“Perfectly fine and normal, this is what neutrality looks like, no further questions.”

The Twitter/X account for Waterstones Help subsequently released a statement that was described as “hideous”, which reads: “We have received some messages about an employee who has been dismissed.

“This was on the grounds of contravening Waterstones policies and has nothing to do with transgender rights.”

To the shock of no one, their statement was met with even further condemnation online.

Twitter/X account @mylilbookhome, who works in PR and marketing,  said they would “never let this type of release go out,” adding: “You are now setting yourself up for more criticism and showing a real lack of humanity.”

@LaRainbow wrote: “Absolute nonsense, it was EVERYTHING to do with trans rights. You’ve shown this LGBT customer exactly which side you’re on and you’ll get no more custom from me, Waterstones.”

In her interview with The Independent, Fitzgerald said she’s “so grateful” for all of the support from those within the LGBTQIA+ and book communities.

“The last thing I would consider myself is an activist (although I’m forever in awe of those who are brave enough to fight so relentlessly), but to me, it’s fairly simple – we just let people be who they want to be and begin with kindness,” she continued.

She later praised her supporters on Instagram, which you can read below.