10:10am PT by Lesley Goldberg
'Survivor' Contestant Apologizes for Outing Zeke Smith as Transgender
Survivor's Jeff Varner is accepting responsibility for outing fellow contestant Zeke Smith as transgender and has issued a lengthy apology.
During Wednesday's episode of CBS' Survivor: Game Changers, castaway Smith — who returned for his second appearance in two seasons — was outed by his fellow contestant and friend Varner as transgender.
The reaction to Varner's actions went viral as the contestant — who was voted off during the episode — was criticized for outing Smith. Immediately following the episode, LGBT watchdog organization GLAAD blasted Varner. "Zeke Smith, and transgender people like him, are not deceiving anyone by being their authentic selves, and it is dangerous and unacceptable to out a transgender person. It is heartening, however, to see the strong support for Zeke from the other people in his tribe," Nick Adams, director of GLAAD's transgender media program, said in a statement. "Moments like this prove that when people from all walks of life get to know a transgender person, they accept us for who we are."
In his apology, Varner called it the "worst decision" of his life and called outing someone an "assault" as he offered his apologies to Smith and his friends and family. Read Varner's full apology, below. Click here for Smith's emotional guest column and here for THR TV critic Daniel Fienberg's column.
Watch Zeke's message to fans Thursday: