Libs of TikTok and its dark influence on LGBTQ+ hate

Author: Daniel Villarreal

Libs of TikTok, a social media account run by anti-LGBTQ+ activist Chaya Raichik, has amassed over three million followers on X (formerly Twitter) by inspiring outrage against LGBTQ+ teachers, all-ages drag performers, gender-affirming medical professionals, and their allies.

History of Libs of TikTok

Raichik, a real estate salesperson in Brooklyn, began the now-infamous social media account in November 2020. The account minimized COVID, repeated election theft conspiracy theories, promoted QAnon theories about child sex trafficking rings, and downplayed the violence of the January 6, 2021 Capitol riots.

After several rebranding attempts, Raichik found success by reposting TikTok videos and social media posts, primarily from LGBTQ+ people, that were framed to create outrage. She branded her Twitter (now X) account as @LibsofTikTok in April 2021 and registered “Libs of Tik Tok LLC” as a domestic limited liability corporation in Delaware that same year.

In August 2021, right-leaning media figure Joe Rogan began promoting Libs of TikTok on his podcast The Joe Rogan Experience, causing Raichik’s Twitter account to gain a massive number of new followers. In November 2021, Raichik falsely claimed that the LGBTQ+ youth anti-suicide organization The Trevor Project is “a grooming organization.” Raichik later deleted the claim.

In March 2022, Seth Dillon, owner of the right-wing fake news website Babylon Bee, registered a branch of Libs of Tik Tok LLC in Florida and listed himself as the corporation’s manager. Later that year, Libs of TikTok was linked to Russian disinformation campaign to stir outrage over LGBTQ+ rights.

While Raichik first operated the Libs of TikTok account anonymously, she was unmasked by Washington Post reporter Taylor Lorenz in April 2022. In August 2022, a lawyer and Republican operative named Grant Lally filed a trademark for Libs of TikTok as a “news reporter service.”

Facebook has temporarily banned Libs of TikTok twice for violating its “community standards”: once in August 2022 and again in January 2024. Twitter has temporarily suspended the Libs of TikTok account five times for “hateful contact” and for promoting “violence, threats or harassment against others” based on minority status. The account has also been temporarily deactivated from Instagram and TikTok.

Former President Donald Trump and X’s transphobic billionaire owner Elon Musk have both praised Raichik for her “free speech.” Libs of TikTok remains active on other right-wing social networks like Rumble, Gab, and GETTR.

Core principles and beliefs

In general, Raichik opposes children being exposed to anything that affirms LGBTQ+ identities.

Opposition to LGBTQ+ content in schools

Since 2021, Raichick has oft-repeated the conservative labeling of LGBTQ+ teachers and their allies as “groomers” (basically pedophiles). She has said that teachers who mention LGBTQ+ people are “abusive,” that gender nonconformity and LGBTQ+-allyship are both a “mental illness,” and that schools are “government-run indoctrination camps” for the LGBTQ+ community.

Raichik has called for “any teacher who comes out to their students” to be “fired on the spot.” Libs of TikTok supports banning LGBTQ+-inclusive books and classroom instruction in schools as well as anti-racist “critical race theory.” Raichik denies the existence of systemic racism. However, she believes that racism against white people is “flourishing” nationwide.

Additionally, Raichik has helped spread false rumors and misinformed videos of schools recognizing students as furries. Such rumors have never been proven but have often been repeated by conservative politicians.

Demonization of gender-affirming healthcare for transgender youth

She has said parents who affirm their children’s trans identities should be prosecuted for “grooming,” and doctors who provide gender-affirming care should be imprisoned and have their medical licensing revoked. This sentiment echoes that of other right-wing politicians who consider gender-affirming care as a form of “child abuse.” Raichik also regularly misgenders trans individuals in her social media posts.

Raichick has said she views transgender identity as a foreign threat to American identity, claiming that China and other countries have spread trans-affirming information as part of a strategy to undermine the United States. Libs of TikTok falsely claimed that “barbaric” hospitals are “mutilating” children by performing hysterectomies on trans youth, even though such procedures aren’t performed on minors.

Libs of TikTok has also reposted misinformation accusing trans and nonbinary individuals of committing school shootings. Raichik has also told followers to call Child Protective Services on a trans couple who recently welcomed a newborn child.

Influence on right-wing media and Republican politicians

Raichik’s videos and photos on the Libs of TikTok account often end up recirculated within the right-wing media ecosystem: first by individual social media influencers with large followings, then by larger anti-LGBTQ+ websites like The Daily Caller and The Post Millennial, and eventually into the mainstream by Fox News and other right-wing pundits and politicians. Raichik’s views have influenced anti-LGBTQ+ legislation, according to The Washington Post.

In the latter half of 2021, Raichik regularly interacted on Twitter with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’s press secretary, Christina Pushaw. Pushaw credited Raichik with “opening her eyes” to the influence of LGBTQ+ teachers in public schools. Pushaw says anyone who opposes DeSantis’s “Don’t Say Gay” law banning LGBTQ+ instruction in schools is a “groomer.”

In December 2022, Raichik participated in her first on-camera interview with former Fox News host Tucker Carlson. That same month, she participated in a Twitter space chat with far-right anti-LGBTQ+ political figures and conspiracy theorists like Charlie Kirk, Jack Posobiec, Drew Hernandez, Sebastian Gorka, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), and others. In the chat, Raichik claimed victimhood and blamed media outlets for inspiring threats against her.

In March 2023, she partnered with the Heritage Foundation, a right-wing political think-tank, to file an ethics complaint against progressive Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) for publicly calling out Raichik’s unsubstantiated attacks on gender-affirming children’s hospitals.

In April, House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) coordinated with Raichik to promote a bogus voting reform bill that Johnson introduced last week alongside Trump to ban non-citizens from voting — something that’s already banned by federal law.

Indifference to death threats against LGBTQ+ people, allies, and children

Raichik has “doxxed” LGBTQ+ people, teachers, doctors, schools, and hospitals by posting their personal information online, leading to numerous death and bomb threats — even against gyms with trans-inclusive locker room policies. She has also posted the locations of all-ages drag events and drag queen story hours, leading to threatening protests by extremists at the events.

Critics have called Raichik a “stochastic terrorist,” a term defined as “a political or media figure who publicly demonizes a person or group in such a way that it inspires supporters to commit violent acts against the target of the speech.”

Numerous LGBTQ+ people and their allies have said that Libs of TikTok makes them feel less safe because they fear that the account’s followers may target them for violence. A gunman who opened fire at an outdoor mall in Allen, Texas in May 2023 reportedly credited Libs of TikTok as the inspiration for his social media post praising Adolph Hitler.

Media Matters documented 33 instances of threats and harassment directed at 25 different institutions after Libs of TikTok targeted them between February 2022 and October 2023. In 2022, she told The Washington Post, “We 100 % condemn any acts/threats of violence.”

In November 2023, the Libs of TikTok X account posted a photo of Raichik smiling while holding up the front page of a USA Today newspaper featuring the headline, “When Libs of TikTok posts, threats increasingly follow.” She described the story as a “huge achievement.”

In a February interview, Raichik said “bomb threats are bad” and that “people who call in bomb threats should be arrested.” But she added, “I just don’t know — what does it have to do with me?”

Recent developments

Raichik released her first children’s book, No More Secrets: The Candy Cavern, in March 2023. The book is about a teacher (a wolf) who asks her students (a flock of lambs) to keep secrets about her classroom lessons from their parents. Raichik said the book aimed to teach 4- to 8-year-olds how to spot “predators.”

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL), an anti-hate watchdog group, added Libs of TikTok to its Glossary of Extremism in October 2023, but later removed it after Raichik threatened to sue the ADL for defamation. In April 2024, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) added Raichik to its public database of extremists. That same month, Raichik was left sputtering on video when Indiana University students asked her to define “wokeness.”

In January 2024, Ryan Walters, the right-wing superintendent of the Oklahoma State Department of Education (OSDE), appointed Raichik to serve on the OSDE’s Library Media Advisory Committee even though she doesn’t live in the state, has no experience working in education and has previously made social media posts that led to death threats against teachers and children in the state’s Owasso school district.

What’s in the future for Libs of TikTok?

Libs of TikTok’s consistent demonization of LGBTQ+ educators, health care professionals, drag performers, and allies has helped establish Raichik as an influential and consequential figure among right-wing extremists and supporters of the so-called “parents rights” movement.

Raichik has previously said that she would like to become more politically involved and host live in-person events for her supporters. If her appointment to OSDE’s book-banning committee is any indication, far-right politicians and media figures will increasingly ally with her to advance their agendas.

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Author: Daniel Villarreal

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