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CBS Stands By Decision to Air 'Survivor' Episode Featuring Zeke Smith Being Outed

CBS Stands By Decision to Air 'Survivor' Episode Featuring Zeke Smith Being Outed

CBS has released a statement to stand by the decision to air the episode of Survivor that featured transgender contestant Zeke Smith being outed by competitor Jeff Varner.

While trying to fight to stay in the game during tribal council, Varner told his tribe that Zeke was capable of deception as he had not told them he is transgender yet.

Varner, who is gay, apologized for his actions during the episode and showed deep remorse for the pain he caused. He has expressed remorse for his mistake in media interviews this week as well.

“After the tribal council scene in last night’s Survivor was filmed, we consulted with Zeke Smith and with GLAAD in advance of the broadcast, including the issue of how Zeke would tell his story after the episode aired,” the network said in a statement (via THR). “This is his second consecutive season on Survivor. From his first season through the current edition, we have always been guided by the principle that this is his story to tell, and it remains so.”

“We support how Jeff Probst and the producers handled a very sensitive situation and marvel at the grace Zeke exhibited under extraordinary circumstances,” the network added.
“We have also respect for how Jeff Varner has expressed remorse for his mistake, both in the episode and in his subsequent dialogue with the media. In the end, we believe this episode, accompanied by Zeke‘s own remarkable writing and speaking on the subject, has provided an unexpected but important dialogue about acceptance and treating transgender people with respect.”

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Photos: CBS
Posted to: CBS, Jeff Varner, Survivor, Zeke Smith

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  • Judy Latty

    Varner was out of line……….wasnt his story to tell

  • persononhere

    true, but he was likely told by Zeke, so, don’t tell your story if you want it kept secret. maybe Varner hit on him and Zeke fessed up

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  • Jenny Hamrick Nelson

    Zeke didn’t tell Varner. He figured it out. You can see the scars from surgery and if you are familiar with that community it is easier to recognize.

  • persononhere

    maybe, i wouldn’t know. but i still think zeke may have confirmed/confided it to him. i think eventually the truth will come out, as to how jeff found out. i saw it tonight though and some of the players said it, zeke has to go now b/c he’d win based on sympathy votes if they let him stay til the end