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A Survivor Contestant Was Outed as Transgender on TV

2 minute read

Survivor is a game where its best players lie, deceive and manipulate others in order to win.

But many fans are saying one contestant crossed a line on Wednesday night’s episode of Survivor: Game Changers, the 34th season of the award-winning reality show. Contestant Jeff Varner outed his tribe-mate Zeke Smith as transgender in an attempt to save himself from being voted out. Varner characterized Smith keeping his gender identity a secret from the tribe as “deceptive.”

“Why haven’t you told anyone here you’re transgender?” Varner asked Smith during tribal council. “It reveals his ability to deceive.”

Survivor host Jeff Probst responded swiftly as Smith’s other tribe-mates came to his defense.

“We don’t need to vote,” Probst told Varner in a Survivor first. “Just grab your torch.”

Probst then snuffed Varner’s torch, eliminating him from the game.

Smith, who was a fan-favorite in the show’s 33rd season Survivor: Millennials vs Gen X before returning for a second round, wrote about his experience in a column published in The Hollywood Reporter on Wednesday.

“I’m not wild about you knowing that I’m trans,” Smith wrote.

Varner posted a statement on Twitter after the show aired, apologizing for outing Smith.

“Let me be clear, outing someone is assault. It robs a strong, courageous person of their power and protection and opens them up to discrimination and danger,” he wrote.

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