For every transphobic comment this TikToker gets, he'll do the Macarena

Screenshots of Ernie Thompson doing the Macarena on TikTok, wearing a shirt that says "Macarena Against Transphobes."

Ernie Thompson began using TikTok like most folks: Posting short, comedic videos for his own enjoyment.

But as a transgender man, Thompson didn’t get to experience that enjoyment in peace.

“I’d been receiving transphobic comments relentlessly from the same few accounts on every single video I would post,” he told Good Good Good. “So much so, the supportive people following me would make jokes like ‘oh wow, I made it to this video before [transphobic account username.]’ I must be early!’”

For months, as Thompson slowly racked up a bit more of a following for his funny, relatable content (like his daily documentation eating oatmeal), he ignored the transphobic comments, thinking that would be best.

“That was until I realized I could profit from their transphobia,” he said.

After gaining 10,000 followers, he was eligible to join the TikTok Creator Fund, which allows creators to make money on videos that exceed one minute. But what would he fill those 60 seconds with? Dance.

“Do me a favor? Watch this video for a few seconds and interact with it, so I can make money off this transphobic comment,” he says, now in a series of videos, before proceeding to do classic dances, like the Macarena

Screenshots of Ernie Thompson doing the Macarena in a TikTok video, as well as the comment section of his video
Photos courtesy of Ernie Thompson/TikTok

The good-natured humor immediately garnered the support of the LGBTQ-affirming TikTok community, the comment sections of Thompson’s videos filling with compliments, support, and encouragement. 

Community members also organized to “boost” the video for TikTok’s algorithms, commenting silly questions or conversation topics to increase engagement and viewership on the video.

“The response is overwhelmingly positive on such an overwhelmingly large scale,” Thompson said.  “It instills so much hope in me that otherwise was not there before.”

@fishermanernie Replying to @WitheredTable87 thanks for the transphobic comment, im going to capitalise on it now 🫶🏳️‍⚧️ #fyp #transgender #ftm #transman #transmenoftiktok #trans ♬ Macarena - Los Del Rio

His most-watched video from November 2023 has received nearly 950,000 views, and earlier this week, he accumulated over 100,000 followers.

“The Macarena has changed my life, which is a sentence I never thought I would say,” he said in a recent video. “Thank you to the transphobes because this series wouldn’t exist without you. You’ve also changed my life. I wish you well and I love you.” 

While the amount Thompson makes on these videos varies depending on their views, he said it’s helped him buy some new equipment to create higher quality content — and “to feed my two cats some very high quality kibble.”

A white man with ginger hair "pets" a drawing of a cat
Photo courtesy of Ernie Thompson

His goal for this year is to give back to the community in some way.

“I’d love to start a nonprofit and I have some ideas in the works,” he said. “I will share more about that some time in the near future.” 

Ultimately, watching a community of virtual strangers rally to emotionally and financially support a trans person creates a larger culture of safety and alliance in a world so full of anti-trans rhetoric — and legislation

“TikTok has opened my eyes to the slightly daunting realization that, yes, there is an army of transphobic people out there,” Thompson said. “But there is also a much bigger and much more powerful army of trans allies out there.”

While Thompson is based in the UK, the ubiquitous nature of the social media platform allows his comment section to be a universal safe space for trans and gender nonconforming people — even if they have to scroll past one nasty comment first. 

“These moments of joy and silliness serve as a reminder that, amongst all the scariness and exhaustion [transphobia] brings, there is an unquantifiable hope for the trans community,” he said. 

“It’s less about the video itself and more about the sea of wholesome comments. I really hope that other trans folks see that comment section and feel as uplifted as I do — that they can see that people care for them and love them.”

Header images courtesy of Ernie Thompson/TikTok

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February 28, 2024 8:34 AM
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