Survivor might have just seen the biggest — and most unforgivable — blindside of all.
Contestant Jeff Varner outed his tribemate Zeke Smith as transgender during a heated Tribal Council in Wednesday’s episode of the CBS reality show. And what’s more, Varner used that revelation to label Smith as “deceitful” in an attempt to get Smith voted off instead of himself. After his tribe rebuked him for outing Smith on national TV like that, Varner defended himself by saying he did it “to show the deception… it reveals the ability to deceive.” After a long debate, host Jeff Probst finally said, “There’s no question who’s going home tonight,” and Varner left the show of his own accord — but the damage was done.
GLAAD issued a statement on Wednesday responding to Varner’s actions. “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,” GLAAD transgender media program director Nick Adams said in a statement. “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.”
Both Varner and Smith are Survivor veterans; the current Game Changers season brings former contestants back for another chance at the $1 million prize. Varner competed twice before, in Season 2’s The Australian Outback and Season 31’s Cambodia. Smith competed in last season’s Millennials vs. Gen X.