‘Survivor’ host Jeff Probst condemns outing of trans contestant Zeke Smith
The host of ‘Survivor’ has hit out after a trans contestant was outed this week.
Zeke Smith, who has appeared on the show twice, came out as trans after being outed in front of other contestants.
Jeff Varner, who is out as gay himself, outed the contestant in front of others.
In front of all other contestants, apparently thinking he was being voted off the show, Varner asked Smith: “Why haven’t you told anyone that you’re transgender?”
And now host Jeff Probst, who kicked Varner off the show after he outed Smith.
“It was as if he had been preparing for this absolutely unpredictable, completely public, and incredibly vulnerable moment for his entire life. His composure was astounding,” Probst told Entertainment Weekly.
“He wanted to be seen as a ‘Survivor’ player. Not the first transgender ‘Survivor’ player. I really respected that distinction and I understood it,” he adds.
“Outing someone is assault,” he said, taking aim at Varner.
“It robs a strong, courageous person of their power and protection and opens them up to discrimination and danger. It can leave scars that haunt for a lifetime.”
“I cannot imagine anyone thinking what was done to Zeke was okay on any level, under any circumstances, and certainly not simply because there was a million dollars on the line,” Probst continued.
“I think the response from the tribe, as it so often does, mirrors what the vast majority of society will feel. You just don’t do that to someone.”
But he commended Smith for showing compassion to Varner despite the outing.
“I was also very impressed with the compassion Zeke showed Varner,” Probst said.
“I wonder if some people will say he shouldn’t have hugged him or shouldn’t have forgiven him. But as a viewer to that moment, I found his ability to still find some level of humanity for someone who had just injured him so severely, maybe his crowning moment.”
29-year-old Smith was popular on the Millennials v Gen-X season of the show.
One other contestant, Bret, came out to him on the show.
He then returned for Game Changes, made up of returning players from other seasons.
After Varner was blindsided when Smith decided to get rid of Sandra a week ago, he admitted to host Jeff Probst that he thought he was going to be eliminated.
“There is deception here. Deceptions on levels Jeff that these guys don’t even understand,” Varner explained, looking at Smith.
“Why haven’t you told anyone that you’re transgender?”
Varner apologised multiple times for the outing, and has tweeted a long apology.
“Being trans and transitioning, it’s a long process; it’s a very difficult process. There are people who know,” Smith said.
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He added that he had planned to come out as transgender but he didn’t think he would be outed.
“I got to a point where I stopped telling people, because when people know that about you, that’s sort of who you are. There are questions people ask, people want to know about your life, they want to know about this and that. It sort of overwhelms everything else that they know about you.”
Continuing he said he never wanted to be “the trans Survivor player,” but that he wanted to be known as “Zeke, the Survivor player.”
“Maybe there’s somebody who’s a Survivor fan and me being out on the show helps him or helps her or helps someone else, so maybe this will lead to a greater good,” he continued.
Without voting, the other contestants decided that Varner would be sent home.
There’s no question who’s going home tonight,” said Probst, checking with each contestant. “It’s Varner.”
“I’m ready to go,” said Varner.
“We don’t need to vote,” said Probst. “Just grab your torch.”