"I was maliciously outed by a former local network news anchor. What a summer!" That's how Zeke Smith sums up his adventure on Survivor: Game Changers, which turned out to be a bit more eventful than Smith's first appearance on the reality show last season. As Wednesday's episode revealed, fellow contestant Jeff Varner accused Smith of "a deception" before outing Smith as transgender, per the AP—a move that has drawn condemnation from an LGBT rights group, host Jeff Probst, and the public at large, per People. Though Varner apologized before he was voted off the show, Smith says he's struggled with forgiving him in the eight months since filming wrapped, in a piece for the Hollywood Reporter.
"In calling me deceptive, Varner invoked one of the most odious stereotypes of transgender people," Smith writes. Varner, who is gay, implied "that I'm not really a man and that simply living as my authentic self is a nefarious trick." GLAAD has criticized Varner's move, while Probst tells Entertainment Weekly that the reaction of his teammates, who swiftly defended Smith, "mirrors what the vast majority of society will feel. You just don’t do that to someone." After Wednesday's episode aired, Varner offered his "deepest, most heartfelt apologies" in a statement on Twitter, per CNN. "I recklessly revealed something I mistakenly believed everyone already knew. I was wrong and make no excuses for it," he said.