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21 April 2017, 02:30 | Max Haynes
Players, fans support Survivor contestant who is transgender after emotionally charged episode
An odd sentiment, I realize, for someone who signed up for two seasons of the CBS reality giant, Survivor.
Fans of Survivor were shocked last night when Jeff Varner, a contestant facing elimination, outed another player, Zeke Smith, as transgender. "Deceptions on levels, Jeff, that these guys don't even understand", Varner said, addressing his teammates and the show's host, Jeff Probst.
JeffProbst said no vote was needed since they were in agreement and as he snuffed Jeff Varner'sSurvivor torch, Jeff said simply, "Varner, the tribe has spoken".
Varner's self-defense was not a success with other players, some of whom were in tears. Already having been on precarious ground, Varner already knew he was being ejected when he asked the question, according to Smith in a guest column for The Hollywood Reporter.
"I didn't want to be the 'first transgender Survivor contestant, '" Smith toldPeople. "It is heartening, however, to see the strong support for Zeke from the other people in his tribe".
"I got to a point where I stopped tellingpeople, because when people know that about you, that's sort of who you are", Smith said. Smith wrote. "I remember distinctly Jeff Probst's opening line, 'You are watching 20 Americans begin an adventure that will forever change their lives.' I was hooked".
"So significant was the experience that I remember where I watched Episode 1 of 'Survivor: Cook Islands;' I remember the date, May 2, 2010".
The attempt backfired nearly immediately, with most of the tribal council reacting in outrage and disgust at Varner's actions.
Varner, who apologized on the episode, also issued an apology note on Twitter Wednesday night, noting that "outing someone is assault" and that he is "deeply saddened at what my mistake unleashed and I promise to use its lesson to do the right thing". I really, truly fear that he can go far, but fall short, for the wrong reasons based on the new perception of others. I can't even begin to explain why this is bad. It can leave scars that haunt for a lifetime. When we disrespect or discriminate, or turn blind eyes to it, we wound all of us.
CBS also arranged for him to speak to the show's psychologist and a local psychologist, he said.
Varner's last-ditch effort to save himself before the tribal council was immediately met with backlash.
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