Wow! Zeke Smith was outed as transgender by fellow contestant Jeff Varner in a shocking episode of Survivor: Game Changer on Wednesday, April 12.
During a charged tribal council on the show that sees previous seasons returning to the competition, 29-year-old Smith was targeted for being “deceptive” by Varner, and in a last ditch attempt to save himself from elimination he outed him.
“Why haven’t you told anyone here you’re transgender?” he asked him point blank on national television.
50-year-old Varner criticized him for keeping his gender a secret from his other contestants insisting: “It reveals the ability to deceive.”
But his malicious plan backfired as he was immediately condemned by other members of the tribe who leapt to Smith’s defense.
The show’s host, Jeff Probst, locked horns with Varner too and after much backtracking and contradicting Varner apologized to Smith.
It was too late, however and Probst made the executive decision to ditch the vote and make him leave.
“We don’t need to vote,” he said. “Just grab your torch.”
Smith, who like Varner, was already out as gay, penned a guest column for The Hollywood Reporter about living as a transgender man and that moment on the show.
In the piece published on Wednesday he wrote how he didn’t discuss his “trans status” in his initial video for the show because he didn’t want to be known as “The First Trans Survivor Player.”
That decision was ultimately taken away from him by Varner, who he says he’s forgiven, but will never be friends with.
“Forgiveness does not require friendship,” he wrote. “Forgiveness does not require forgetting or excusing his actions. Forgiveness requires hope. Hope that he understands the injury he caused and does not inflict it upon others. Hope that whatever torments his soul will plague him no more. I have hope for Jeff Varner. I just choose to hope from afar, thank you very much.”
After the show aired Varner also tweeted a lengthy apology and called what he did “the worst decision of my life.”
— Jeff Varner (@JEFFVARNER) April 13, 2017
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