Former Survivor contestant Jeff Varner is still facing hefty criticism for his decision to out fellow contestant Zeke Smith as being transgender on the show. While Varner apologized on the show and offered another apology via a statement, the incident is still causing trouble and has now cost Varner his job as a real estate agent.
After the airing, the incident sparked an online backlash against Varner and much discussion about the ethics of outing another person.
Varner, who is gay, apologized to Smith on the show and has repeatedly apologized in numerous interviews this week.
The News and Record reported Varner was told he was fired because he was “in the middle of a news story that we don’t want anything to do with.”
Smith commented on the episode and noted the difficulty in trying to accept Varner’s apology:
“It’s tough with Varner,” he said. “I don’t think he hates trans people. I just think he has a lot of misconceptions about trans people. I think if he wants to be an ally to trans people, he has a long way to go.”
As Variety points out, the situation does have a silver lining. Seeing Smith being accepted by the other contestants on the show and likely opened the door for many watching at home, a sentiment echoed by GLADD Transgender Media Program director Nick Adams:
“Zeke Smith, and transgender people like him, are not deceiving anyone by being their authentic selves, and it is dangerous and unacceptable to out a transgender person…
“It is heartening, however, to see the strong support for Zeke from the other people in his tribe. Moments like this prove that when people from all walks of life get to know a transgender person, they accept us for who we