Two major payment processing companies have banned the group Gays Against Groomers from using their systems to receive funds from purchases on the hate group's website.
For months, along with right-wing troll Chaya Raichik, who runs Libs of TikTok, a Twitter account that calls itself Gays Against Groomers has been engaging in what advocates have said are strategies that amount to a stochastic terror campaign, specifically against transgender people.
Gays Against Groomers founder Jaimee Michell, who identifies as gay, is a political operative with, according to LinkedIn, employment ties to a Florida-based right-wing political outfit called X Strategies.
The company's cofounder is proud "MAGA Republican" Alex Bruesewitz, who recently spoke at a Trump rally.
At 2:47 a.m. Eastern Tuesday, the Twitter account for the group tweeted, "We have just been BANNED from @Venmo and @PayPal (within minutes of each other) for 'violating' their user agreements. We are an organization that consists entirely of gay people whose only mission is to safeguard children from abuse. Woke homophobia is real, folks."
A spokesperson for PayPal confirmed that the account no longer has access to its services in a statement to The Advocate.
"PayPal's policy is not to allow our services to be used for activities that promote hate, violence, or discriminatory intolerance," the spokesperson wrote. "We base our reviews of accounts on these parameters, taking action when we deem that individuals or organizations have violated this policy."
PayPal owns Venmo.
In early September, Gays Against Groomers used the name of clinical instructor at Harvard Law School's Cyberlaw Clinic and trans activist Alejandra Caraballo to sell anti-trans merchandise, some of which insinuated that LGBTQ+ people are pedophiles with caches of child pornography.
Caraballo shared a screen shot of the hate account's tweet and directed an appeal to Twitter's safety team.
"Despite being permanently suspended 3x and reinstated without explanation," she began, "Gays Against Groomers is now engaged in harassment against me by using my name as a discount code for tees insinuating illicit material on a computer [because] I'm trans. What are you doing @TwitterSafety?"
As of publication, Apple Pay and Stripe are still accessible to service Gays Against Groomers for merchandise and donation transactions.
A spokesperson for Stripe declined to comment on whether the company intends to suspend its relationship with the hate group because "we don't comment on individual users."
Apple did not respond to The Advocate's request for comment.
Caraballo welcomed the news that Venmo and PayPal have dropped Gays Against Groomers and banned the group from using their payment processing services. However, this is not surprising, given the hatred the group foments, she says.
"I think it's entirely expected considering the type of group they are and the behavior they've engaged in," Caraballo tells The Advocate. "They have been one of the bigger accounts over the summer that popped up and really started to push this groomer narrative, and despite Twitter's explanation that its hateful conduct policy covers the term groomer when applying it to a group of people -- they have been suspended three times -- Twitter has reinstated them every single time."
Caraballo monitors online extremism professionally and says that Twitter and other companies are afraid to act against accounts like Libs of TikTok and Gays Against Groomers because they have powerful friends in right-wing media.
"One recent suspension [request regarding Gays Against Groomers] came back and said, 'Oh, it's too late, we already have a time slot booked with Tucker Carlson,'" Caraballo says. "It's important to note the relationship between Carlson and many of these hate accounts like Libs of TikTok, Gays Against Groomers, and Moms for Liberty and others that have been particularly focused on the LGBTQ community."
She says that once the accounts "get a whiff of suspension, Tucker immediately features them on his show or, in the case of Gov. Ron DeSantis in Florida, someone threatens to come after companies."
She says, "They have very powerful allies in the media and government that are helping prop them up."