“Trans people are beautiful, wonderful human beings who simply want to be their authentic selves,” says “Survivor: Game Changers” castoff Jeff Varner after he was eliminated in a dramatic tribal council in which he outed fellow castaway Zeke Smith for being transgender. This was Varner’s third time playing the game after failing to make the merge in both “The Australian Outback” (Season 2) and “Second Chance” (Season 31), but his comments toward Zeke will now likely cast a shadow over his “Survivor” legacy.
Listen to our full exit interview above and then make your “Survivor 34” predictions for a chance to top our famous leaderboards. It’s fun and easy, so start now by predicting who will be voted out next.
“I have spent the last 10 months reliving this experience, unable to talk about it to anybody,” Varner admits about watching the episode on TV. “Having this air was a beginning of healing, in a way. And I dreaded it, but at the same time I looked forward to it because it was the beginning of being able to step forward in a truth that I’ve not really been able to talk about until now. But my experience with the show last night was 100% focused on Zeke. I didn’t care anything about me. It was, how was he gonna come across and will he be okay and will this look good for him, and how will he handle this? It’s important for me that he be healthy and safe and in a decent place with this because it’s super important, and that’s where my focus was last night.”
“Everybody who knows me knows my heart and they know my soul and they know that I’m not that person who would do something like that in a normal environment,” Varner explains about the controversy. “I’ve got a lot of support and a lot of love around me and I can only hope and imagine that Zeke has doubly that.”
Looking forward, Varner adds, “It’s important for me that this situation ultimately creates something positive. The fact that this conversation is even existing I think is a beautiful thing. I hope that this is able to reach into those conservative homes who support these awful, hateful things like these bathroom bills and helps them come to a place of acceptance.”
Our “Survivor” podcast is shorter than usual because of Varner’s various media requests. However, before signing off, he reveals, “I’m grateful for CBS for not editing around this. I think it’s important that it’s out there.”
Get a closer look at the Season 34 contestants by clicking through our cast photo gallery. In our “Survivor” predictions center, you get to answer the following questions before each episode airs on CBS every Wednesday at 5 p.m. PT / 8 p.m. ET.:
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