"Survivor" host Jeff Probst put contestant Jeff Varner on blast when he outed fellow contestant Zeke Smith as being transgender.
During the shows tribal council, Varner tried to "save his life" in the game by throwing Smith under the bus for his "deception".
“Why haven’t you told anyone you’re transgender?”
Immediately their tribe mates came to Smith's defense yelling at Varner that it wasn't his place to bring up something so personal.
When the camera finally settled back on Smith, he was calm.
He said his friends and family at home knew he was transgender but he chose to not make it part of his "Survivor" story.
Probst didn't even call for a formal vote, he asked for a raise of hands.
"We don't need to vote. Just grab your torch."
The Hollywood Reporter published an essay by Smith describing his transition, how competing on the reality show helped him prove himself and how he felt during Varner's outing.
” … In calling me deceptive, Varner invoked one of the most odious stereotypes of transgender people, a stereotype that is often used as an excuse for violence and even murder. In proclaiming 'Zeke is not the guy you think he is' and that 'there is deception on levels y’all don’t understand,' Varner is saying that I’m not really a man and that simply living as my authentic self is a nefarious trick. In reality, by being Zeke the dude, I am being my most honest self — as is every other transgender person going about their daily lives.”
In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Probst made clear that Smith's transgender identity would never be a plot point in the show unless he wanted it to be.
"Zeke was fully aware someone might suspect it or bring it up and he said, 'I will deal with it as it arises.' And I have to add it was never a question of Zeke being worried his story would come out. Zeke is a massive Survivor fan and his point with us was very clear — he wanted to be seen as a Survivor player. Not the first transgender Survivor player. I really respected that distinction and I understood it."
After the episode aired, Varner released an apology on his social media.