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Survivor transgender outing (CBS)
Survivor transgender outing (CBS)

The 'Survivor' contestant who outed his tribemate as transgender got fired from his job


UPDATE April 16, 7:51 p.m. EST: 

"Survivor" contestant Jeff Varner lost more than a $1 million grand prize when he outed fellow tribemate Zeke Smith as transgender during Wednesday night's episode -- he also lost his job.

The North Carolina native, who was fired from his job at Allen Tate Real Estate Thursday, told the Greensboro News & Record that his former employer said he was "in the middle of a news story that we don’t want anything to do with.”

This season of "Survivor" was filmed 10 months in advance, but Varner was unable to talk about the incident publicly until it aired. 

Varner, who is openly gay, told Entertainment Weekly Radio that he hadn't intended to out Smith. He told the News & Record that CBS paid for therapy for both he and Smith.

"This was traumatic for the both of us and it was ugly," Varner told Entertainment Tonight.

Original story

Coming out as LGBT can be a stressful time. And no one wants to be outed under the wrong circumstances.

Zeke Smith's outing wasn't exactly ideal. A fellow contestant on "Survivor: Millennial vs Gen X"," Jeff Varner, outed him as transgender during Wednesday night's episode, saying Smith was in the midst of a "deception."

This plan backfired on Varner, who was voted off the island.

The move was condemned by many viewers.

Varner invoked one of the most odious stereotypes of transgender people, a stereotype that is often used for as an excuse for violence ...
Zeke Smith

Smith acknowledged Varner was right but said he had kept his gender identity a secret "because I didn't want to be, like, the trans 'Survivor' player. I want to be Zeke the 'Survivor' player." He is the first out transgender player in the show's history, USA Today reported.

Smith wrote at length about his experience in a Hollywood Reporter column. He said he didn't believe Varner was transphobic, but he has "struggled with ... forgiveness."

Varner apologized on Wednesday via Instagram.

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