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How Zeke Really Felt About Survivor Airing Him Being Outed As Trans

Zee smiling on the island

Spoilers ahead for the most recent episode of Survivor.

Survivor: Game Changers has been a doozy of a season. We've seen blindside after blindside, carried out by some of the most popular castaways of all time. But the season hasn't been without its strife, particularly when three-time player Jeff Varner outed contestant Zeke Smith as a transgender man a few episodes ago. The episode led to many conversations about ethics within the game and struggles that transgender folks deal with on a daily basis. But some critics have been partially blaming Survivor, claiming the producers should have cut the scene if they didn't want millions of people to find out about Zeke's gender identity.

But with Zeke voted off in the most recent episode, he's doing tons of exit press. When speaking with EW, Zeke revealed how he truly felt about CBS' decision to air the now infamous outing scene.

I've always wanted this to air. And I think it's also important to say that I didn't go on national television unprepared for the world to know that I am trans, and was ready should that part of my life become part of my Survivor story. It never crossed my mind that it shouldn't air and I certainly never asked for it not to air.

Well, that might just put a kabosh on the pushback against Survivor. Zeke always expected his confrontation with Jeff Varner to air, and he seems to harbor no ill will for the groundbreaking reality competition series.

Jeff Varner's outing of Zeke Smith on Survivor went instantly viral, sparking important conversations regarding the transgender community. And while Varner's actions were universally admonished, there were some critics who believed that Survivor was complicit in the incident by airing it for millions; if they cut it out of the show, Varner only outed Zeke to his five tribe mates, rather than the entire world. But since host/producer Jeff Probst didn't even have the tribe place votes, instead doing an informal verbal vote, it made it impossible to edit around the mess.

Then again, Zeke doesn't seem to be harboring any ill will toward Survivor, and he fully expected the confrontation to air. Additionally, the team behind the series also worked alongside LGBT advocacy groups in order to get the perfect tone for the episode and handle it respectively. Zeke was also freed from certain contractural obligations so that he could appear on shows like The Talk and write an op-ed about his experience before the episode aired. And while the situation is surely painful for him, Zeke has taken this opportunity to make it a teaching moment, perhaps opening up the eyes of viewers who might not personally know a transgender person.

Although Zeke was sadly voted off during Survivor's most recent episode, you can still catch glances of the fan favorite while he serves on the jury. Survivor: Game Changers airs Wednesdays on CBS.

Corey Chichizola

Corey was born and raised in New Jersey. Double majored in theater and literature during undergrad. After working in administrative theater for a year in New York, he started as the Weekend Editor at CinemaBend. He's since been able to work himself up to reviews, phoners, and press junkets-- and is now able to appear on camera with some of his famous actors... just not as he would have predicted as a kid.