Out-ed on National Television

"I didn't want to be the trans Survivor player, I wanted to be Zeke, the Survivor player.” Zeke stated after the gut dropping statement. | Aidan J. Faiella



If youre anything like me and my family, you have memories of a crowded living room, huddled around a television to see who got voted off the island this week on Survivor. What always made the show was how each person had such a different personality than the other… although what else would you expect from Reality TV? 

Over the past  thirty-four seasons of the hit show Survivor, there have been more controversies than one can count on their hands and toes. Between IRS evasions, allegations of harassment, and alleged game-rigging, perhaps the most shocking tribal council to occur occurred this past week. 

Zeke Smith is a two time Survivor cast member from Brooklyn, NY. Smith is known as a fan favorite, and thats the only title he went into this show wanting. This past week, he [ Smith] was forcefully out-ed’ as Transgender by fellow tribe member Jeff Varner in front of the other contestants on national television. This season is called Game Changers” and it definitely changed the game for the entire cast which is entirely made up of returning players who had a major impact on the show in previous seasons. 

“There is deception here. Deceptions on levels Jeff that these guys don’t even understand,” Jeff explained before leering at Zeke. “Why haven’t you told anyone that you’re transgender?” You could literally see the color flush from his face. There is no right” way to be Transgender. We dont have a code to follow, or rules — were just human beings living life the way we feel is the most authentic way(s) for ourselves. That being said, most trans people choose to live their lives stealth” and thats okay, because its their choice, and it makes them happy.  “I didn’t want to be the trans Survivor playerI wanted to be Zeke, the Survivor player.” Zeke stated after the gut dropping statement. 

Moving forward, my hopes is that this continues to raise awareness of how Much people have yet to learn about each other. The fact that you choose to keep your Transgender status as Stealth” is just that, yours.  There could be a million reasons, or just one.. when you out someone it could open them up to many situations that theyre not ready to face. The most encouraging outcome that came out of this incident was the outpour of support from Smiths’ other tribe members, the show host, and fans alike. 

Varner says his goal was to “show the deception.” Zeke being trans [per Varner] “reveals the ability to deceive.” Thankfully, Varner ends up leaving the show without a vote. He [Varner] sent a public apology on Twitterimmediately following the airing of the episode offering his “deepest, most heartfelt apologies” to Zeke.  “I recklessly revealed something I was wrong and make no excuses for it. I own my responsibility in what is the worst decision of my life.” Varner closed his public apology with the simple statement, when we disrespect or discriminate…we wound all of us.