Popular reality TV show Survivor caused uproar yesterday (April 12) as a contestant was outed as transgender by a fellow contestant during a ‘council meeting’.
The show is currently in its 34th season. Survivor sees contestants placed on an isolated island in Fiji where they must gather food and water, prepare shelters and build fires. Each week a contestant is eliminated by being ‘voted out’ by their fellow contestants. The winner receives $1,000,000.
During one of these elimination rounds, contestant Jeff Varner, told his rival, Zeke Smith, “There is deception here,” before stating that there had been “deception on levels” that the other contestants wouldn’t understand.
He then asked Smith, “Why haven’t you told anyone you’re transgender?” The other contestants were outraged by Verner’s comments, as Smith sat in silence.
— SURVIVOR (@survivorcbs) April 13, 2017
The footage caused uproar among social media users, with some saying they were ‘disgusted’, another calling Verner a ‘jerk’ and another saying that the outing was ‘so fucking low’.
Viewers were disgruntled by the show runners for choosing to run with the footage, despite the episode being filmed months before.
However, due to this, both Verner and Smith were able to prepare repsonses to the episode. Speaking to People, Smith said, “In calling me deceptive, Varner invoked one of the most odious stereotypes of transgender people, a stereotype that is often used as an excuse for violence and even murder. In proclaiming ‘Zeke is not the guy you think he is,’ and that ‘there is deception on levels y’all don’t understand,’ Varner is saying that I’m not really a man and that simply living as my authentic self is a nefarious trick. In reality, by being Zeke the dude, I am being my most honest self.”
Verner posted a lengthly apology on his Instagram, stating that “outing someone is assault”. “I am deeply saddened by what my mistake unleashed and I promise to use its lessons to do the right thing,” he added.