Survivor’s Hali Ford ‘upset’ that Jeff Varner kicked off show for outing trans contestant
A fellow Survivor contestant has said she is “upset” at the treatment Jeff Varner got after he controversially outed another contestant on the show as transgender.
Varner was fired from his position as a real estate agent at Allen Tate Realtors after he outed Zeke Smith on the show.
But now Hali Ford has spoken out to say she is “upset” at the treatment Varner is getting since the outing.
“I’m a little upset how little understanding Jeff is getting,” Ford told PEOPLE.
“Everyone makes mistakes — and that was a big mistake — but Jeff is an incredible person. Martin Luther King Jr. said, ‘Hate cannot drive out hate — only love can do that.’ I just feel like, in light of Jeff’s circle of hate, we’re just hating on him so hard and I just wish we wouldn’t do that.”
Varner, who is out as gay himself, outed the contestant, Zeke Smith, on television in front of other contestants.
He tried to argue that he 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 said to Smith. “Why haven’t you told anyone that you’re transgender?”
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Varner has apologised multiple times for the outing.
“I offer my deepest, most heart-felt apoligies to Zeke Smith, his friends and life allies, his family and to all those who my mistake hurt and offended,” he wrote on Twitter. “I recklessly revealed something I mistakenly believed everyone already knew.”
“Being trans and transitioning, it’s a long process; it’s a very difficult process. There are people who know,” Smith, who had planned to come out as trans, added.
“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.
The outing was condemned by host Probst shortly after the episode aired.