Zeke Smith, the Survivor contestant who was outed as transgender by another contestant, Jeff Varner, on Wednesday night’s episode, appeared on The Talk on Thursday to discuss that experience. It had come as a surprise to Smith, who said he was expecting the worst. Instead he found nothing but support.
“I thought, ‘All right, you’re going to have to fight. You’re gonna have to explain why what happened was wrong. You’re going to have to defend yourself.’ But I didn’t need to. Because my tribe mates rose up and defended me loudly,” Smith said.
He said that when he first applied to appear on Survivor, the show was unaware that he was transgender but became aware of it as the show progressed. Smith said that the producers left up to him when, if, and how it would happen if he decided to make it public. After Wednesday’s episode was shot nine months ago, Smith and the producers immediately began having conversations about how this episode would be handled. Smith even wrote a column for the Hollywood Reporter in which he opens up about being outed as transgender.
“I was really proud of how I responded. I wanted the world to see how much I’d grown, and I also thought by showing what happened, maybe it wouldn’t happen to someone else, and something good could come of it,” Smith said.
Check out the emotional Survivor tribal council when a transgender contestant gets outed:
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