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.”