Transgender Male Outed on ‘Survivor,’ Internet Goes Nuts
On Wednesday night's dramatic episode of Survivor: Game Changers, player Jeff Varner outed fellow contestant Zeke Smith as transgender on national television.
"Why haven't you told anyone you're transgender?" Varner asked Smith, in a last-ditch effort to stay on the show.
After uniform shock and condemnation from everyone on camera, Varner was voted off the island.
"It's okay, man," Smith told an apologetic Varner on his way out.
The internet exploded with reaction to the exchange, some even calling the outing "an act of violence."
Some Survivor viewers blamed CBS for airing the exchange at all, though CBS reportedly worked with LGBT activist group GLAAD before airing the footage.
Varner issued a statement on the issue via Twitter, apologizing to Smith and taking "responsibility in what is the worst decision of my life."
Yep. I did that. And I offer my deepest, most heart-felt apologies to Zeke Smith, his friends and life allies, his family and to all those who my mistake hurt and offended. I recklessly revealed something I mistakenly believed everyone already knew. I was wrong and make no excuse for it. I own responsibility in what is the worst decision of my life.
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. It can leave scars that haunt for a lifetime. I am profoundly sorry. Zeke is a wonderful man and I will forever be amazed and inspired by his forgiveness and compassion. I thank God for that and the gift of being an example as to why you should never do what I did.
We cisgender Americans live with an enormous amount of privilege and should spend time pondering how we use that for the greater good. When we disrespect or discriminate, or turn blind eyes to it, we wound all of us. I am deeply saddened at what my mistake unleashed and I promise to use its lessons to do the right thing.