Tags: survivor | contestant | outed | transgender

'Survivor' Contestant Outed as Transgender During Tribal Council

(People magazine)

By    |   Thursday, 13 Apr 2017 11:27 AM

A "Survivor" contestant was outed as transgender by a fellow competitor during Wednesday night's episode of the CBS series, prompting outrage from viewers against the cast member who did it and the network that aired it.

The episode's tribal council climax appeared to catch everyone by surprise as player Jeff Varner, an openly gay man, outed Zeke Smith in an apparent attempt to stay in the game, alluding to "deception" among the group, The Washington Post reported.

“There is deception here,” Varner said at the tribal council in a scene that was filmed months ago. “Deception on levels, [host] Jeff [Probst], that these guys don’t even understand . . . There’s more."

He then turned to Smith: “Why haven’t you told anyone you’re transgender?”

Fellow cast members reacted with shock that Varner would out Smith and quickly came to Smith's defense with empathy.

Smith participated in 2015's "Survivor: Millennials vs. Gen X" and was brought back for this season, called "Game Changers." He was known on the show as a gay man, but chose not to disclose his gender history to his tribemates or to the viewing audience until being outed by Varner, according to Deadline.

"I didn't want to be the 'trans' 'Survivor' player, and I wanted to be Zeke the 'Survivor' player," Smith later said. "I don't even need a cheerleader because I know I can do whatever I want to do."

The Washington Post reported that LGBT advocates called Varner's outing "low," "an act of violence," and the "worst thing anybody has done in 34 seasons" of "Survivor."

Nick Adams, director of LGBT acceptance group GLAAD's Transgender Media Program, issued a statement Wednesday on the organization's blog.

"Zeke Smith, and transgender people like him, are not deceiving anyone by being their authentic selves, and it is dangerous and unacceptable to out a transgender person," he wrote. "It is heartening, however, to see the strong support for Zeke from the other people in his tribe. Moments like this prove that when people from all walks of life get to know a transgender person, they accept us for who we are."

Varner issued an apology about the incident on Twitter Wednesday.

Some complained that CBS never should have aired the outing.

But show producers reportedly worked with GLAAD's Transgender Media Program and Smith himself for months in order make sure the reveal was handled with sensitivity, The Washington Post reported.

Smith wrote a lengthy column for The Hollywood Reporter on his life and the "Survivor" incident Wednesday.

"A person's gender history is private information and it is up to them, and only them, when, how, and to whom they choose to disclose that information," he wrote. "Keeping your gender history private is not the same as a gay person being 'in the closet.'"

"My biggest concern was that if people knew, their opinion of me would change. I feared if I let anyone too close, they'd smell my stench and not want to be my friend anymore. Better to have acquaintances than no one at all. So I held them at arm’s length."

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A "Survivor" contestant was outed as transgender by a fellow competitor during Wednesday night's episode of the CBS series, prompting outrage from viewers against the cast member who did it and the network that aired it.
survivor, contestant, outed, transgender
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2017-27-13
Thursday, 13 Apr 2017 11:27 AM
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