‘I don’t understand that this is the Survivor experience I would have actually picked. But I’m proud that the man Survivor forged,’ states Zeke Smith, the contestant outed together transgender.

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“Are girlfriend going to quit or room you walk to store playing?”

That was the question Brooklyn-based legacy manager Zeke smith asked himself after he was outed together transgender by other Survivor contestant Jeff Varner in an illustration of the fact competition show filmed last year and also aired on CBS in mid-April.

“Why haven’t girlfriend told anyone right here you’re transgender?” Varner had asked blacksmith in prior of their whole tribe together they questioned that night’s elimination vote, suggesting that Smith keeping his identity a secret was proof of his volume for “deception.”

The strategy backfired. ~ an emotional and at times chaotic discussion, Survivor executive, management producer and also host Jeff Probst circumvented the normal voting procedure—in i m sorry contestants deposit handwritten votes one through one right into an urn—and the tribe unanimously ejected Varner indigenous the video game in an oral vote. Smith, who spent lot of the “tribal council” in stunned silence prior to finding his voice, made decision to keep going.


“I was never ever going come quit,” smith told The day-to-day Beast. “The answer was constantly you need to keep playing.”

Known for his interlocutor and—he admits—“reckless” playing layout in the so-called social video game that is Survivor, Smith managed to last because that three more votes before being eliminated in the episode that aired this Wednesday night.

Both he and Probst think that the outing incident may have affected his capability to get further in the game—not since his other contestants didn’t want to play versus a transgender human per se, but because the “personal story” that now had as a result of the outing can have provided him a competitive benefit later in the game.

“Who’s come say if i would have actually made that longer?” blacksmith told The daily Beast. “But i remember waking increase the following morning and thinking, ‘I’m toast.’ there was simply this cosmic change in the atmosphere.”

In the finale of any type of Survivor season, a jury composed of eliminated contestants from the season votes to decide which that the final three players will receive a million dollars. And also Survivor juries have a history of lucrative players who can construct a compelling an individual narrative out of your time ~ above the show. It is why, as Probst told The Hollywood Reporter, “there is a high probability that would have actually lasted longer” if Varner hadn’t outed him. Smith had come to be “too large of a threat.”

Smith, ever before the Survivor strategist, called The day-to-day Beast that he feeling “handcuffed” and also “hamstrung” through the outing incident—and the it was evident no one wanted to make partnerships with the that would certainly take him to the endgame.

But he no let that store him from competing. No one does he resent his fellow contestants for voting the off, in part, come defuse his “personal story,” also calling the “good gameplay to not let me get very far.”

“That’s the name of the game,” he said. “If i were ~ above the various other side, ns think i would have actually treated me the exact same way.”

He no blame his elimination completely—or also primarily—on the outing incident, either. Over the last couple of episodes, Survivor fans have watched Smith shot to influence elimination votes with “big moves” that periodically backfired. That’s since Smith determined that he wasn’t going to protect against taking risks in the video game after the outing incident.

“I eventually think I gained voted out due to the fact that I wasn’t yes, really going come sit back,” he told The day-to-day Beast. “I stated to everybody, ‘No, I’m right here to play and I’m going come come ~ you.’ and I think that got me poll out much more than my story.”

The last few weeks have been a rollercoaster ride for Smith, who has now to be outed together a transgender male not just to his tiny Survivor tribe however to countless viewers. Some argued that CBS must not have actually aired the illustration or discovered a clever method to edit roughly the defect council.

The repeated refrain on Twitter was the Varner outed blacksmith to his tribe but CBS outed him come millions. And, in the initial after-effects of the episode, there to be questions about whether the network to be “exploiting” a contractually-bound contestant.

But smith told The day-to-day Beast he never ever once want it to be omitted native the show and never requested that CBS edit approximately the moment.

“It never ever crossed mine mind that it do not do it air,” that told The daily Beast. “I never asked because that it no to air. And also a pair of days after I got voted out, Probst and I started talking about how us were going to handle the next nine months—and we both approached it from how we deserve to turn this dark moment into something positive and also do something good with it.”

A brand-new York times report the morning after the outing aired revealed the Smith, CBS, Probst, and also the LGBT advocacy group GLAAD operated together end those nine months to fine-tune the episode and handle the subject respectfully. (Probst also told the Times that Smith was conscious that the subject of his gender might “come out” during the show, and that Smith had actually promised to “handle that together I require to, if the does.”)

The episode finished up sparking a national conversation about the perils of outing transgender people—which deserve to include, as GLAAD notes, losing “jobs, housing, friends, or also their lives”—that reached a big audience across the politics spectrum.

The work it aired, Varner authorize a publicly apology top top Twitter. Blacksmith has found it difficult to forgive him; as he wrote in a Hollywood Reporter guest column, blacksmith is willing to “reconcile the personal slight of him outing me” yet “forgiveness does not call for friendship.”

“I can’t foresee us sipping martinis with each other in Fire Island,” that wrote.

One human he would prefer share a cocktail with, however, is Jeff Probst. Smith gives the longtime organize of Survivor credit transaction for not turning the outing incident into an overly sensational reality present moment. That procedure began, blacksmith told The daily Beast, immediately after Varner outed him, throughout the occurring hours-long lack council, which to be edited for size in the perfect episode.

“The other really superior thing that ns don’t think one more reality present host would have actually done is leaving me alone,” claimed Smith. “He witnessed that I required some time and really didn’t speak to on me for most of 45 minutes or one hour.”

A lesser host, blacksmith suspects, can have automatically pivoted native Varner to blacksmith while filming in an effort to squeeze an emotionally reaction the end of the newly-outed transgender contestant. It would have been, smith admits, “a gold moment to exploit.” but instead, Probst offered Smith time to recover and also gather his thoughts before looping him into the discussion.

“For the this has actually never been ‘Transgender Shocker!’” blacksmith told The everyday Beast, mimicking the ton of the sensationalist and transphobic headlines that regularly surround stories favor his. “And it would be because that a most other reality shows.”

At the finish of the tribal discussion, smith told his tribe—and as necessary the world—that he would fairly be well-known as “Zeke the Survivor player” quite than as the first transgender Survivor player.

But even though Smith’s personal story certainly impacted his time top top the show, he believes that many people—from his other contestants come the fans—still see him as just that: Zeke the Survivor player.

His other contestants got to recognize him as a person first in an environment where any discussion of politics and religion is generally frowned top top to maintain unity.

“Before Survivor ns didn’t have any kind of friends who voted for Trump, smith said. “And now I have countless friends who voted for Trump—and it is a beautiful thing.”

And although the show’s fanbase disputed the outing event at length last month top top the Survivor subreddit and fan podcasts, they quickly resumed your running conversation of Smith’s strategy as a player. Smith told The everyday Beast they easily “move on” and “evaluate him together the sloppy, reckless Survivor player that he is.”

Overall, he believes the the therapy he’s received “marks a sea adjust in the method in i m sorry trans civilization are treated in America”—a shift toward seeing transgender civilization as people first and foremost.

In exit interviews, smith hasn’t ruled out the opportunity of returning to Survivor one day. Yet he called the Hollywood Reporter that, because that now, as a “queer background nerd,” he is looking into future tasks that would enable him to help “connect” LGBT youth through their own history. And in a way, Survivor has associated Smith with his own an individual history.

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“Transitioning yes, really knocked me turn off my high horse,” that told The everyday Beast, noting the he was once a “pretty exceptional youngster” that “dreamt big” and also “went after things with tenacity.”

“I stopped type of taking large swings at life and Survivor was yes, really the an initial big one ns took ,” that said. “It scared the hell the end of me. But I threw whatever I had actually at it.”

Competing on Survivor, smith says, aided him regain confidence—even if it led to him being blindsided v a public outing.

“I don’t understand that this is the Survivor suffer I would have actually picked,” smith admits. “I think, in fact, if you offered me a glimpse right into the future and also showed me what mine Survivor experience would have actually been, I would not have done it. However I’m proud of the male that Survivor forged.”