I haven’t watched much of Survivor lately but needed some junk TV to watch while I worked on inventorying my collectibles. I got more than I planned for.

Last night’s episode had an appalling moment during tribal council in which a contestant on the verge of being voted off the show outed someone as transgender. Jeff Varner, a news anchor and entertainment reporter, called out Zeke Smith for being deceitful, using as the basis for his argument Smith’s secret alliance with another tribe member and his being transgender.

Varner turned to Smith and accusingly said, “Why haven’t you told anyone you’re transgender?”

Instantly his fellow tribe members rebuked him, several shouting that Varner didn’t have to do that and that Smith’s personal life had no bearing on the game. Varner snapped back, “I argue for the rights of transgender people everyday in the state of North Carolina.” Wow, given that, it’s surprising that North Carolina was the state that banned transgender people from using the bathroom of their choice and just this week, three legislators introduced a bill that would ban same-sex marriage.

Varner argued that Smith’s being transgender evidenced his ability to deceive. Personally, I wouldn’t want this dimwit to “argue for the rights” for anyone until he educated himself. And yes, Varner played the “my best friend is black” card justifying that, “my transgender friends know who I am and what I support and they know that I’m not this horrible monster.” He followed up by breaking down because he was “devastated” that he himself resorted to outing someone to, as Jeff Probst said, “You didn’t just tell six people. You told millions of people.” Him devastated? How about focusing the compassion he had for himself to the person his actions impacted? Take responsibility much?

How it Ended

Eventually Probst didn’t even call a vote and went down the line asking if it was a done deal. They all agreed, and Varner was voted off. His farewell video had him breaking down again.


After the episode, Varner tweeted  an apology housed within a diatribe of how people should act. Nice sentiment, but he’s not one to give advice. He should just shut the fuck up–oh, unless he’s partaking in his daily arguing for transgender rights.


–Ken Choy

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