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How a teen used her web trolls to boost $2 million for abortion entry

It began with a tweet. 

“Welcome to Texas! The place the federal government regulates our our bodies greater than our electrical grid,” 19-year-old Olivia Julianna wrote in early July. 

The Houston-based teen was referring to the state’s abortion ban after the reversal of Roe v. Wade, simply one in all many younger individuals to talk out concerning the laws.

However Olivia acquired a biting response from a preferred account: “Be happy to f— off to wherever else!” 

She says the reply opened the floodgates of on-line trolls, who made fatphobic digs at her physique. 

“Hate feedback don’t trouble me in anyway,” Olivia informed Fortune. “I simply actually couldn’t care much less.” She pledged to donate $1 to an abortion fund within the identify of each one that despatched a remark, tweeting: “Thanks for hating, it helps the motion.” Past giving out $350 herself, Olivia urged others to match her with their very own contributions, elevating $1,500 in whole for abortion entry causes. 

However the expertise gave her an vital perception: She may flip social media vitriol into cash for the causes that have been vital to her. So just a few weeks later, when Florida Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz targeted Olivia on Twitter after saying that abortion activists have been obese and unattractive, she was prepared. 

With out ever having led an official fundraiser, Olivia mobilized his insults and the rising social media consideration into $2 million to help 50 abortion funds throughout the nation in lower than every week. That quantity has now climbed even larger. 

“I don’t assume he may have picked a worse particular person to choose on than me,” Olivia stated. 

The trail to $2 million 

Olivia received concerned in politics at 17 and constructed a gradual social media following of 1000’s over the previous few years by encouraging younger individuals to vote in Texas elections. 

She works at Gen-Z for Change, an activist collective, and has lengthy believed that abortion entry was one of many points that might ship individuals to the poll field, suspecting early on that Roe would fall. 

“It’s not a matter of if Roe v. Wade can be overturned. It’s a matter of when Roe v. Wade can be overturned,” she informed a movie crew hours earlier than Justice Samuel Alito’s draft opinion was leaked to Politico.   

Since Roe was dismantled in June, at the least 10 states have banned abortion. Clinics and abortion funds, which assist cowl the logistical prices of the process, have relied on donations greater than ever as pregnant individuals looking for abortions flood into states the place the process remains to be authorized, usually racking up appreciable prices to take action.

That’s why in mid-June, Olivia determined to fundraise to help these teams by way of Gen-Z for Change. They selected 50 abortion funds in states gearing as much as obtain an enormous inflow of sufferers from locations the place abortion was banned or restricted. Donations reached $26,000 shortly after the fundraiser launched. 

Nevertheless it was over a month later, when Olivia received singled out by Gaetz, that the fundraiser actually began taking off. 

The congressman shared a photograph of Olivia to his followers on Twitter with the caption “Dander raised.” It referenced a NewsMax headline that claimed Gaetz’s speech—the place he implied abortion activists have been all “5-2, 350 pound” girls that “no one needed to impregnate”—was “positive to boost dander of his political opponents.”

“In honor of Matt Gaetz publicly physique shaming me, I’ll be fundraising for the @genzforchange abortion fund,” Olivia tweeted on July 25.

“No one ought to be tolerating a sitting Congressman bullying a teen no matter your opinions on abortion,” Olivia stated.  

A spokesperson for Gaetz informed Fortune: “With Roe v. Wade overturned, America is now a pro-life nation. No quantity of solicitations will change that.” His workplace denied Olivia’s characterization that Gaetz’s remarks have been physique shaming. “Congressman Gaetz by no means talked about the grownup’s weight. Leftist media did.”

Inside 24 hours of sending the tweet, Olivia achieved the preliminary fundraising aim of $50,000. She credit her background in organizing for serving to her consider inventive methods to proceed the momentum and blow up the fundraiser. She made positive eyes stayed glued to her feed with fixed replace posts on TikTok, Instagram, and Twitter. She says she noticed probably the most success by far on Twitter, the place she has gained 162 million impressions prior to now month by way of addressing sassy thank you cards to Gaetz, providing to ship flowers, and urging her followers to donate extra.

“My job is political technique,” she stated. “It’s understanding methods to capitalize on political moments to get the end result I need.”

Different Gen-Z for Change employees constantly up to date the fundraiser, first growing the aim for each $50,000 acquired and later each $250,000. The massive greenback quantities additionally caught the eye of abortion fund recipients; some requested Olivia to relay messages on how the cash will make a distinction. 

“The cash y’all have raised for us & our sibling funds is nothing in need of life-changing,” wrote the Abortion Fund of Ohio. “Hundreds of individuals will now be capable of entry care—whether or not of their house state or exterior it—due to your work.”

‘Able to capitalize, and able to increase cash’

The fundraiser is at present inching towards its newest aim, $2.5 million {dollars}. Olivia hesitated when requested if the goal will go up once more if that’s reached. 

“Truthfully, at this level, I’m simply taking it daily,” she stated. 

Her life has seen a dramatic change prior to now week and a half. Every day has change into a nonstop blur of occasions, TV appearances, and images—she says she’s taken round 400 prior to now week. She’s additionally fielding “insane” job affords, and proposals to pay for her faculty tuition—a stark change from her circumstances just some months in the past. 

“Once you’re a younger girl of shade, not to mention a younger plus measurement, queer, disabled girl of shade, you’ve received to claw and scratch to get alternatives as a result of they’re so brief and restricted,” she stated. “It’s simply actually surreal.”

However there’s extra to return as Olivia plans upcoming journeys to Philadelphia, Austin, and Nashville to talk at occasions about abortion rights and advocacy. 

Whereas numbers can really feel theoretical on-line, it’s these in-person encounters that Olivia says present her the affect she’s making. At occasions, she stated sexual assault survivors—one of many teams most impacted by the Roe overturn—have shared how her content material has helped them. Individuals say her stance in opposition to physique shaming and openness about her consuming dysfunction historical past allowed them to grapple with their very own self-image points. She says the youngest to ask for a photograph was 13, and the oldest, a 93-year-old girl.

“It makes me speechless,” she stated. “I knew that we’d be serving to individuals get entry to abortion, however I didn’t understand that this could be emotionally impacting individuals in the way in which that it has.”

What’s subsequent? “Extra fundraisers are undoubtedly coming,” she stated. She’ll keep in Texas when beginning faculty as a political science main within the spring.

As for Gaetz, Olivia has a message: hold speaking. 

“I’ll be there able to capitalize, and able to increase cash,” she stated. 

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