First openly trans Survivor contestant asked to leave over health fears: ‘I take this with love’
The first openly trans man to appear on the TV competition Survivor was asked to leave after just 48 hours over fears for his health.
Jackson Fox was cast on the 42nd season of the CBS reality competition show, and said in his intro video: “I’m a transgender man, and I think if you can go through the process of pretty much revitalising your entire life and baring it all, I think you can go on Survivor and bare it all as well.
“I want that to be a part of who I am, because it made me who I am.”
— SURVIVOR (@survivorcbs) February 14, 2022
Fox is not the first trans man to compete on Survivor, but he is the first to enter the competition already out – in 2017, Jeff Varner was kicked off of the show for outing trans contestant Zeke Smith in front of other participants.
But on Wednesday (9 March), in the season premiere, Fox was asked to leave the competition after just 48 hours of gameplay as he had revealed to producers that he was currently taking lithium just one day before filming began.
In a conversation with Survivor host Jeff Probst during the two-hour premiere, according to ET Online, Fox said: “I remember talking to my wife, she’s a nurse, and I said, ‘Well, I’m on lithium,’ and she’s like, ‘Well, you’re weening yourself off of it. You’ll probably be off of it [when the show begins]. I don’t need to bring it up because I’ll be fine.”
Fox said that there was a “stigma” around taking lithium, and continued: “Everyone hears the word ‘lithium’ and they go way back in time. And they’re like, ‘That was a huge drug back in the day.’ That was a scary drug to be on.
“Their first thought is the transition. Was it because of the transition? I’m like, ‘That had nothing to do with it.’ If that was the case, I would’ve been on lithium 20 years ago because I was so unhappy. But that wasn’t the case.”
Fox revealed that he began taking lithium in 2016 while caring for his terminally ill mother, and said he was happy to be open about his medication: “I think you should talk about everything. I’m not ashamed to say I need help with certain things. That’s life.”
Producers ultimately felt that the harsh and remote conditions of the competition could put Fox at physical risk, and he was asked to leave the show.
“I get it and I appreciate you talking to me about it,” he told Probst.
“It’s weird that I’m getting emotional about it but even to test yourself for 48 hours, it is such an adventure. I take this with love. I know I will be friends with these people. I appreciate you giving me this opportunity.
“For someone who didn’t like anything about them for 40 years, then have someone say people liked things about you that you didn’t know that you were capable of, speaks volumes. And I appreciate it. It was the best 48 hours ever.”