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Chaya Raichik

About Chaya Raichik

Chaya Raichik is the founder of the social media account @LibsofTikTok (LTT) who helped revive in right-wing propaganda the anti-LGBTQ+ “groomer” slur, which implies that all LGBTQ+ people are pedophiles. She spreads the anti-LGBTQ+ conspiracy theory that “groomers” have infiltrated every social institution with the intent of “sexualizing” children. Under the LTT pseudonym, Raichik originally shared content intended to humiliate and intimidate LGBTQ+ content creators. She has used the platform in an anti-LGBTQ+ disinformation campaign that mobilizes right-wing extremist groups in violent attacks against LGBTQ+ people, spaces and events, as well as against doctors, hospitals, librarians, libraries, teachers and schools.

In Her Own Words

“These [LGBTQ and allied] activists and groomers, they’re not just in schools, they’re in all institutions and they want to sexualize our children, they want to confuse our children about their identity.” – Chaya Raichik, “The Jason Rantz Show,” March 2, 2023

“It’s become normalized to be racist against white people.” – Chaya Raichik, @LibsofTikTok Twitter, Nov. 9, 2022

“The word groomer isn’t and never was an ‘anti-LGBT slur.’” – Chaya Raichik, @LibsofTikTok Twitter, Nov. 6, 2022

“Any sane person realizes that mutilating children for ‘gender affirmation’ is barbaric. This is why they work so hard to cover their tracks; they don’t want you to know about it, or you might put a stop to it. Their agenda depends on reaching — and irreversibly damaging — these children at as early an age as possible.
“Getting suspended by Twitter has made me realize my biggest mistake: I only called one hospital. I should’ve called dozens.” – Chaya Raichik, “Twitter suspended me for telling the truth.”

“Any teacher who comes out to their students should be fired on the spot.” – Chaya Raichik, @LibsofTikTok Twitter, April 3, 2022

Background

The Twitter handle @LibsofTikTok first appeared in April 2021. The account was founded by Chaya Raichik – a Brooklyn, New York-based real estate agent – and originally shared COVID-19 and 2020 election conspiracies. In 2021, Raichik rebranded a previous account to capitalize on the right-wing anti-LGBTQ+ “groomer” moral panic and focus almost exclusively on sharing content that accuses LGBTQ+ people of harming children.

@LibsofTikTok operated anonymously throughout 2021, and by the end of the year, Libs of Tik Tok LLC was registered as a domestic limited liability corporation in Delaware using a registered agent.

In April 2022, reporter Taylor Lorenz unmasked Chaya Raichik as the person behind the social media account @LibsofTikTok. Raichik has characterized the event as “doxxing” (maliciously posting personal information online) and said that being exposed motivated her anti-LGBTQ+ activism. The day after Raichik was exposed as the author of @LibsofTikTok, Seth Dillon, owner of the Babylon Bee, announced his support for Raichik, but implied the Babylon Bee was not employing Raichik and said the site did not “do a deal with her.” Instead, by March 2022, Dillon registered a branch of Libs of Tik Tok LLC in Florida and listed himself as a manager of the corporation. Dillon was still listed as a manager of the Florida branch of the LLC at the time of the corporation’s annual report, dated February 2023.

In December 2022, Raichik appeared for the first time on camera with Tucker Carlson. On an episode of Carlson’s Fox Nation program, Raichik compared LGBTQ+ identity to a cult and pushed false claims about transgender people. Raichik also explained her intent to conduct in-person activities.

In February 2023, Raichik released a children’s book called No More Secrets: The Candy Cavern, which the publisher claims is about keeping secrets from adults, but which she said is a warning to parents about how some teachers refuse to “out” their LGBTQ+ students. Since then, Raichik has been heavily featured in Heritage Foundation events, ironically decrying dangerous social media platforms. On March 23, 2023, the Heritage Foundation hosted a press conference during which Raichik claimed the social media platform TikTok was allowing transgender people to “groom” children. The event also hosted a discussion between Raichik and Heritage Tech Policy Center director Kara Frederick titled “The Ticking Clock on TikTok: How to Protect Our Kids Online.”

On March 25, 2023, Raichik posted a video accusing U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of “lying” when the congresswoman from New York condemned Raichik for targeting hospitals that provide gender-affirming care. The video was also shared on Twitter by the right-wing think tank Heritage Foundation and appeared to be produced by the Heritage Foundation.

Anti-transgender ideology and reinvigorating the ‘groomer’ slur

Raichik’s social media posts and public appearances often focus on demonizing LGBTQ+ people. Raichik spreads false information including anti-trans pseudoscience about transgender identity and experiences that stoke fear, distrust and hatred of trans people. Though she claims to be motivated by a desire to protect children, Raichik has targeted children’s hospitals, as well as other spaces and events that directly serve children, for campaigns of abuse and intimidation – putting them in danger of bomb threats, gun violence and exposure to vicious anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric.

Raichik has also revealed that her anti-trans ideology is motivated at least in part by nativism, casting transgender identity as a foreign threat to American identity and the spread of trans-affirming information as a foreign strategy to undermine the United States. In a Heritage Foundation panel in March 2023, in which she advocated banning the social media platform TikTok, Raichik justified her position by claiming that “China is giving our kids information on how to transition”; that “gender ideology” is creating “division in America” and “hatred of America”; and that such ideology is “a problem across all social media platforms.”

Through the latter half of 2021, Raichik regularly interacted on Twitter with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’s press secretary Christina Pushaw – who on March 4, 2022, infamously gave license to attacking LGBTQ+ people and their supporters as “groomers” when she referred to Florida’s draconian “don’t say gay or trans” law as an “anti-groomer law.” The trope is not new. It has been used to evoke racist and antisemitic fears for centuries. In the context of anti-LGBTQ+ ideology, it falsely equates LGBTQ+ people with pedophiles, falsely claims LGBTQ+ people are harmful to society, and has been weaponized to deny LGBTQ+ people equal rights. According to Media Matters, Pushaw was not the originator of the slur in Florida politics. Instead, Pushaw added the term to her social media repertoire after her interactions with a still-anonymous account recently renamed @LibsofTikTok.

Raichik has since scrubbed the account of most mentions of the term “groomer”; web archives show, however, that in 2021 and early 2022 Raichik regularly directed the term at teachers – even tagging their personal Twitter handles and falsely claiming teachers want to “trans” kids – parents, media personalities, public officials and LGBTQ+ groups. Notably, in November 2021, Raichik made a false claim that the Trevor Project – a suicide prevention program for LGBTQ+ youth – is “a grooming organization.” Raichik has also advocated for parents who affirm their children’s gender identity to be prosecuted for “grooming” their children.

After Pushaw’s “groomer” tweet went viral, the phrase, which is a slur long used to provoke fear and hatred of many marginalized groups, became both a common insult and accusation for anti-LGBTQ+ extremists and many politicians to level at their opponents to delegitimize them. Ironically, Donald Trump – who praised Raichik’s book and other work, saying she is “exposing sick people who are coming after our kids” – has even leveled the phrase against Pushaw’s boss Ron DeSantis, who signed the “don’t say gay or trans” bill into law.

Pushaw also credited Chaya Raichik with “opening her eyes” to an unfounded moral panic of LGBTQ+ teachers in public schools that borrowed heavily from Raichik’s familiarity with QAnon conspiracies and may have inspired Florida’s “don’t say gay or trans law” in the first place. In truth, it appears that the visible back-and-forth between people like Raichik and Pushaw helped refine the anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric and propaganda that would be needed for a sustained right-wing political assault on LGBTQ+ people and rights that has resulted in numerous attacks against LGBTQ+ people and record numbers of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation from 2021 to 2023.

Litter boxes in schools and targeting teachers

From her online interactions with Pushaw, Raichik appeared to find validation of her anti-trans ideology and her dual strategies of co-opting LGBTQ+ content to spread disinformation and targeting LGBTQ+ inclusive spaces. Throughout 2021 and 2022, while capitalizing on her successful reinvigoration of the “groomer” slur and its prominence in Republican Party politics, Raichik also led an anti-inclusive education campaign that relied on conspiracy theory, anti-LGBTQ+ propaganda and the “groomer” slur. In addition to advocating bans of LGBTQ+ and anti-racist books, Raichik has advocated for schools to “out” LGBTQ+ kids and called for LGBTQ+ teachers to be fired.

Archived tweets also show Raichik posted contact information for teachers and principals, called on “any teacher who comes out to their students” to be “fired on the spot,” and regularly tags social media accounts of local schools to encourage them to remove LGBTQ+ books from their classrooms and libraries. In one instance, Raichik, apparently upset that an Akron, Ohio-area school taught inclusive sex-education classes, posted to both her social media and Substack accounts contact details for teachers and administrators at the school as part of her pressure campaign to define what subjects can and cannot be taught. Citing her disinformation campaign against Akron Children’s Hospital, Raichik said, “Libs of TikTok is proud to have played a role” in eliminating inclusive education in the district.

Since 2022, Raichik’s disinformation campaign against schools and teachers has been fueled by a debunked claim about schools that demonstrates both the shallowness of Raichik’s anti-trans ideology and the effectiveness of oversimplified messages about gender identity built on transphobia.

Along with Raichik’s revival of the “groomer” slur, in 2022 multiple Republican Party candidates breathed new life into an urban legend that makes a false equivalency between transgender identity, trans-species identity and “furries” (“people who have an interest in anthropomorphized animals”) – often oversimplifying and conflating each. Raichik and anti-inclusive education groups have falsely claimed that providing safe bathrooms for transgender students will result in schools installing litter boxes for children who identify as cats.

In January 2022, Meshawn Maddock, chair of the Michigan Republican Party, who also called Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg a “weak little girl,” posted about the unfounded claim on Facebook. Buttigieg is the first openly gay cabinet member in U.S. history. Maddock’s post linked to a local parents’ group and a video of Lisa Hansen – founder of a local Moms for Liberty chapter – appearing before a Midland, Michigan, school board meeting claiming to have “heard” one of the local schools has a “litterbox for kids who identify as cats,” and falsely linking this rumor to a national “agenda that’s being pushed.”

While Raichik’s tweet amplified the Hansen video, she had previously spread the litter box myth in a Dec. 14, 2021, tweet citing an October 2021 Facebook post from a Canadian school district in which the school denied the rumor. Raichik’s tweet of the Hansen video, however, claimed the practice was happening in Michigan and spawned a series of similar false and salacious rumors across the country – many citing Raichik’s claim. Though the video was twice proven false, in 2022 Raichik tweeted videos spreading the myth, including a video claiming to show a puppy pad for students in a Texas school and a video of Joe Rogan repeating the false claim, which he later retracted.

This myth, combined with Raichik’s platform and penchant for labeling people “groomers,” have fueled anti-LGBTQ+ laws, book bans, calls to fire gay teachers, and disruptions of local school board meetings across the country. Perpetuating the myth also distracts schools from their primary responsibility of educating and protecting young people and contributes to the right-wing erosion of public education in the United States.

Health care disinformation campaign targeting children’s hospitals

Gender-affirming health care is the best practice for treating gender dysphoria, according to most major medical organizations in the United States. Gender-affirming health care can take many forms, and anti-transgender propagandists often conflate surgical procedures with hormone treatments or social actions like simply recognizing someone’s pronouns – all of which can be appropriate depending upon a person’s position and needs. Anti-LGBTQ+ propagandists often falsely claim that children are treated without parents’ consent or that surgery is the first step in gender-affirming treatment. These are baseless assertions grounded in pseudoscience, misunderstanding and bigotry. They are also the building blocks of the LTT disinformation campaign targeting children’s hospitals.

Raichik has targeted multiple hospitals (as well as individual doctors, LGBTQ+ people, and LGBTQ+ events and spaces) in a campaign spreading false and conspiratorial claims about gender-affirming health care that mimics the outrage and disinformation campaign she perpetuates against schools and teachers. She refers to these posts as “exposes” on health care practices, but as NPR News reported, the false claims are generally based on innuendo and edited video or audio clips. Raichik then denies statements from medical providers that refute her claims, using them as evidence that the caregivers are engaged in a cover-up, disguising their “grooming” of young children. In 2022, at least 24 hospitals in 21 states were targeted as part of this broad disinformation campaign, many directly by Raichik.

Raichik’s online disinformation campaign has been associated with in-person violence. Her false claims about hospitals and about LGBTQ+ people “grooming” children have mobilized white supremacist, anti-LGBTQ+ and other extremist groups to pursue in-person attacks. The Washington Post reported Twitter employees even feared “that it’s ‘only a matter of time’ before the [LibsofTikTok] posts lead to someone getting killed.”

Along with threats to children’s physical safety – including bomb threats to children’s hospitals – the disinformation campaign led some hospitals and clinics to suspend care or remove vital information from their websites, which jeopardizes the lives of LGBTQ+ people. In December 2022, the Human Rights Campaign released a report, titled Online Harassment, Offline Violence, that summed up Raichik’s strategy: “Social media posts from accounts like Libs of TikTok and Matt Walsh kick off a cycle of harassment and stigma, with the ultimate goal of inciting violence and shutting down access to lifesaving and medically necessary gender affirming care.” In addition to her efforts to end gender-affirming care, Raichik’s disinformation campaign has fueled a slate of anti-LGBTQ+ health care measures across the country.

Raichik’s disinformation campaign targeting hospitals started in mid-2022. On June 22, Raichik tweeted a false accusation that Honor Health in Phoenix, Arizona, was helping “12-year-olds hide” medical information from their parents – implying the hospital was engaged in a covert effort to medically transition children without their parents’ knowledge. In a Substack post, Raichik claimed the tweet was evidence of “the Left’s agenda to groom your children.”

Boston Children’s Hospital

On Aug. 11, 2022, Raichik tweeted a claim about Boston Children’s Hospital’s (BCH) gender-affirming care practices that PolitiFact identified as false. In the tweet, Raichik said the hospital offered “gender-affirming hysterectomies for young girls.” The claim was based on an “out-of-context video” that NPR News described as “a short clip about gender-affirming hysterectomies from a video originally posted by Boston Children’s that ... makes no mention of patients’ ages. But Libs of TikTok tweeted alongside the clip the false claim that the hospital offers the surgery “for young girls.”

Vice News reported that online abuse followed the comments made by Raichik and other right-wing social media accounts, including threats against doctors who provide gender-affirming care. On Aug. 16, 2022, Boston Children’s Hospital pointed to Raichik’s false claims as the source of a “large volume of hostile internet activity, phone calls, and harassing emails including threats of violence” targeting “clinicians and staff.” The same day, Raichik posted an article to Substack titled “Boston Children's Hospital supports castrating kids and I have evidence” in which she repeated the debunked claims, added new caveats to make her false claims seem plausible and linked to another user’s Twitter thread that refuted her Aug. 11, 2022, tweet. Still, Raichik claimed in the post, critiques of her credibility only strengthened her resolve to continue her disinformation campaign.

The effects of Raichik’s disinformation campaign are tangible, inspiring terror among hospital staff and patients – many of whom are children Raichik claims to protect – but also potentially inspiring extremists to physically attack the people and institutions that provide gender-affirming care. In October 2022, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Medical Association and the Children’s Hospital Association, recognizing the increasing danger posed to hospitals and doctors, sent a letter to the attorney general asking the Department of Justice to investigate the threats against children’s hospitals and doctors and calling on social media companies to prevent disinformation campaigns from spreading.

So far, two people have been charged with threatening gender-affirming care providers in Boston, and both cases note the connection between online disinformation and the actions of the alleged perpetrators. In the first instance, Catherine Leavy of Massachusetts was arrested and charged by the FBI in September 2022 for threating to bomb BCH. In the second instance, Matthew Jordan Lindner of Texas was charged with threating a doctor affiliated with the National LGBTQIA+ Health Education Center in Boston.

In Leavy’s case, the charging documents recognize the attack occurred in the context of Raichik’s online disinformation campaign, stating, “BCH and GeMS [Gender Multispecialty Service] were accused of engaging in child abuse involving pedophilia, grooming, and mutilation of children” and accused Leavy of referring to a hospital switchboard operator who fielded the bomb threat as a “sicko.”

The DOJ noted Lindner’s threats mimicked language spread as part of Raichik’s disinformation campaign: “You signed your own warrant, [victim]. Castrating our children,” Lindner allegedly told the unnamed doctor. The charging document also noted Lindner allegedly acted in late August 2022 based on “inaccurate information spread online regarding procedures at Boston Children’s Hospital for the transgender community.”

In a possible attempt to distract from the effects of the harassment campaign, Raichik partnered with the Heritage Foundation’s Oversight Project in March 2023 to file an ethics complaint against and attempt to publicly confront Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who used a House Committee hearing to call out Raichik’s false claims about Boston Children’s Hospital. When Raichik could not locate Ocasio-Cortez in her office for more than a week, the @LibsofTikTok creator fooled the congresswoman to pose for a selfie in the U.S. Capitol and filmed the ensuing confrontation, which ended with Ocasio-Cortez calling Raichik “super transphobic” as she walked away.

Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia

On Aug. 23, 2022, Raichik tweeted a short audio recording featuring a conversation about gender identity development among young people. Raichik claimed the edited clip featured the staff from the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), insinuating that hospital staff are taking advantage of vulnerable children to mold their gender identities. Following the claims, right-wing extremist and propagandist Jack Posobiec posted false claims insinuating the hospital and its doctors were “recruiting” children from “homeless shelters” for “experimental” surgical procedures.

In early October 2022, after Raichik’s and Posobiec’s false claims went viral, the hospital increased security precautions due to the attention and threats it received. As threats against the hospital increased, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported CHOP joined with major American medical associations asking the Department of Justice to devote attention to the numerous threats hospitals and care providers are experiencing because of Raichik’s and other right-wing propagandists’ disinformation campaign. On Nov. 1, 2022, however, Raichik again targeted CHOP, sharing a video clip claiming the hospital was providing “double mastectomies” to “kids” – implying that CHOP was violating ethical standards and, again, perpetuating myths about gender-affirming care for minors.

St. Louis Children’s Hospital

In an Aug. 24, 2022, tweet, Raichik insinuated that St. Louis Children’s Hospital is intentionally risking the lives of children by providing harmful medication that was reportedly linked to “thousands” of deaths. The post was accompanied by a series of screenshots from the right-wing outlet Daily Wire, including the headline to a 2019 article written by Amanda Prestigiacomo falsely claiming that puberty blockers, like those used in gender-affirming treatments and whose effects are reversible, are threatening the lives of children.

The Prestigiacomo story originated on the conservative Catholic and antiabortion LifeSiteNews and was quickly debunked. As NBC News reported, the results of the study cited by Prestigiacomo and Raichik reflect the fact the same drug is administered to “terminally ill cancer patients who receive hormone blockers to fight hormone-sensitive cancers, like prostate cancer,” and the reported deaths are likely among this group, not transgender children seeking gender-affirming care.

SCH became the focus of national attention and state legislative action in the wake of Raichik’s national disinformation campaign against gender-affirming health care. Missouri lawmakers introduced, and in 2023 adopted, a version of the Family Research Council’s SAFE Act to ban gender-affirming health care for minors. A supposed whistleblower – who is not a doctor at the facility and whose claims were disputed by former patients accused the hospital of violating informed consent procedures. The new Missouri attorney general admitted to FRC’s Tony Perkins that the claims motivated his administrative regulation “sidestepped” the legislative process banning gender-affirming care for minors in the state.

The hospital has been under investigation by anti-LGBTQ+ state politicians but has refused to suspend care and jeopardize the health of its patients, despite two separate occasions when claims made against the hospital were called into question.

Children’s National Hospital

On Aug. 25, 2022, Raichik posted an audio recording purporting to confirm her claims that Children’s National Hospital in Washington, D.C., was also providing “gender-affirming hysterectomies on minors.” Although the hospital denied the report, which was based on recordings from people who did not provide care to children, they also received threats, including death threats directed to doctors and bomb threats. On Aug. 28, 2022, Twitter suspended Raichik’s account for violating the platform’s prohibitions against promoting violence, harassment or threats.

Akron Children’s Hospital

On Sept. 18, 2022, Raichik tweeted a local news report from 2019 about Akron Children’s Hospital (ACH) and their then-new gender care center, criticizing the hospital for providing access to gender-affirming care – which can be lifesaving for transgender people. ACH reported threats stemming from the increased attention while Ohio State Rep. Casey Weinstein explicitly called out Raichik’s “social terror campaign” against the hospital.

ACH issued a statement condemning the “intentional spread of misinformation” endangering doctors and patients, though they did not name Raichik or the @LibsofTikTok account. Raichik, however, took umbrage and in a Sept. 23, 2022, tweet, admitted her role in the disinformation and harassment campaign, retweeting the hospital’s statement and saying the hospital is “now claiming that I spread misinformation.”

Children’s Minnesota and University of Wisconsin Health

On Nov. 7, 2022, Raichik posted a criticism of a 2020 TEDx on gender-identity development among children, tagging Children’s Hospital of Minnesota. That day, a Babylon Bee-affiliated site posted an article calling the hospital’s chief education officer a “groomer,” citing Raichik’s post.

In October 2022, NBC News reported on the effects of Raichik’s disinformation campaign, citing the experiences of multiple hospitals and doctors. The reporters noted, however, that many would not even speak on the record about their experiences “citing threats of violence.” One doctor at University of Wisconsin Health, whom Raichik targeted, said, “The followers of LibsofTikTok and Ted Cruz [who retweeted LTT] lied about my practice to stir up outrage, doxxed me and my family, and my clinic is receiving harassing phone calls.” He continued, “I can only imagine how scared our patients are feeling.”

In a Dec. 12, 2022, Twitter space chat featuring Charlie Kirk, Jack Posobiec, Drew Hernandez, Sebastian Gorka, Matt Gaetz and others, Raichik tried to claim victimhood, saying “the media” was being hypocritical by not characterizing public criticism of her as threatening or terrorism, even though she claimed to receive threats after being exposed as the author of LTT. In making the argument, however, Raichik seemingly admitted that posting public information about LGBTQ+ people, teachers, doctors, schools and hospitals online – the crux of her own anti-LGBTQ+ disinformation campaign, can and has resulted in violence. Specifically, Raichik asked, “So if me just posting about let’s say a drag show is harassment and is terrorism and results in violence, then is them [LGBTQ+ activists and the media] criticizing me the same thing because they criticize me and then I get death threats?”

In addition to suspensions of care and terror among America’s health care workers, the disinformation campaign has been the basis for right-wing legislative efforts to ban gender-affirming health care in the United States. As of 2023, nearly 2 in 10 LGBTQ people live in states where they are legally prohibited from receiving at least some form of best-practice health care, according to the Movement Advancement Project.

Anti-trans book tour

Throughout 2023, Raichik engaged in a book tour to promote the release of her children’s book (reportedly written for children ages 4 – 8) called No More Secrets that, according to the publisher Brave Books, “reveals the dangers of keeping secrets from your parents.” In an interview at the 2023 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) with Seattle talk show host Jason Rantz, Raichik said the book was specifically about her disdain for teachers supporting LGBTQ+ students, especially when they refuse to “out” them to potentially unsupportive parents. In the interview, Raichik listed teachers who refuse to “out” their students as one of the most “egregious” stories she has covered since starting the LTT account.

Brave Books is a conservative publisher whose other authors include anti-LGBTQ+ personalities Kirk Cameron and Jack Posobiec (a right-wing conspiracy theorist and media personality known for his associations with white nationalists). Bestsellers published by Brave Books reportedly include a book that teaches children about abortion and an anti-trans title that teaches the lesson “boys are not girls.” A signed copy of Raichik’s book is available from the publisher for around $40, and Raichik has sold her followers on the idea that “getting my new book” will “protect the innocence of the children in your life,” continuing to capitalize on her revitalization of the anti-LGBTQ+ “groomer” trope. The book tour sometimes features Posobiec, who, it was reported, smiled and said, “Try it,” when asked how he would react if protesters attended their events.