LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — It was an accusation that stunned the Tribal Council on Wednesday night’s episode of “Survivor: Game Changers,” which was shot months ago.
“Why haven’t you told everyone you are transgender?” said Jeff Varner, who outed fellow contestant Zeke Smith.
The announcement brought his castmates to tears as they immediately defended him.
“Nobody has the right to out anybody. Seriously! That was for him to do when he was comfortable,” the castmates said on the show.
Smith didn’t say much about the shocking revelation on the show. But he did share with the ladies on CBS’ “The Talk” Thursday.
After the declaration, host Jeff Probst gave him a minute to collect his thoughts, the contestant said.
“When I came back, I thought all right. You’re going to have to fight. You’re going to explain what happened. You’re going to have to defend yourself. I didn’t need to because my tribemates rose up and defended me,” Smith recalled.
Also ready to defend him, the LGBT community. “It’s never okay to out someone,” said Callie Rodgers, who is a transgender woman. “That’s something you can never take back. Zeke is going to have to walk the rest of his life as an out trans man.”
But what bothers many in the LGBT community is the perception that being transgender is deceptive.
“I think it’s very dangerous to perpetuate this myth. Being out as a woman now is showing the world my authentic true self,” Rodgers said.
In the episode, Varner apologized repeatedly: “I’m sorry Zeke.”
“Zeke and I have spoken several times over the last ten months. I thought we were in a good place. I’m hearing different reactions from him today,” Varner told Entertainment Tonight on Thursday.
Although CBS was criticized for airing this part of the show, Smith said the producers worked with him.
“In the aftermath of being outed, I’ve been granted unprecedented autonomy on how I wanted to tell my story,” Smith added.
In the end, Varner was sent home. Ironically, his only hug goodbye came from Smith, who hopes that what happened to him can help promote awarness.
“I also thought that by showing what happened, may be it wouldn’t happen to someone else, and something good could come of it,” Smith said.
CBS released a statement saying: “We believe this episode, accompanied by Zeke’s own remarkable writing and speaking on the subject, has provided an unexpected but important dialogue about acceptance and treating transgender people with respect.”