Jackson Fox (‘Survivor 42’) on being medically removed: I’m ‘broken’ because my dreams are ‘gone, just like that’

Jackson Fox still gets emotional when thinking about his medical removal from “Survivor 42.” The moment in question was filmed last summer, but only shown to TV audiences on March 9. “I’m broken because my dreams of everything I’ve been thinking about for 10 years is gone, just like that,” Jackson told Entertainment Weekly in his March 10 exit interview. “I had kind of forgotten about it until I watched it last night, and then I went, ‘Oh, that really hurt.'”

For those who missed the riveting episode, Jackson was pulled from the Season 42 premiere after failing to disclose he’d been taking lithium until the day before shooting began. As Jackson revealed on the island with host Jeff Probst, he didn’t mention his lithium usage because he was “trying to just quit it completely because I didn’t need it anymore.” He had been taking the drug for sleep and anxiety as the result of his mother’s sickness, and not because of his recent transition from female to male. Typically there are alternate cast members who can step in and replace someone in a situation like this, but “the alternate left that day,” Jackson confirmed to Parade.

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As he explained to EW, “I’d gotten on medication for my mom so I could start sleeping. It was lithium, and everybody gets that fear. I had a fear of it, because I’d never been on medication in my life. And I’d been on it for about three years. When I got contacted by ‘Survivor,’ I was starting to wean off of it and I thought, ‘Well, I’ll be off of that before I get on the game.’ Unfortunately, I was on the tail end of it when I got on ‘Survivor.’ And, of course, they do the medical background. They’re sitting there with you and the doctor, and she goes, ‘You’re on lithium?’ And I was like, ‘Yeah, but I’ve got, like, two doses left,’ and she’s like, ‘Oh boy. So we kinda have to be a little careful with it because of dehydration, and we can’t send blood out to get tested because of Covid. We’ll just see what we can do.'”

Jackson previously auditioned to be on the CBS reality TV show a decade earlier as a woman when he was in a “really bad spot” in his life. He noted, “I thought the best way to escape was to go on an island. Why not? You hate everything about yourself, so go on an island. That seems safe! Probably not. Wouldn’t have been the best move.” Speaking candidly about his transition, Jackson added, “There was not a name for it when I was growing up — nothing until I saw a YouTube video and went, ‘Lightbulb! Oh, I’m transgender. Oh, this is scary.’ And I come from a very Southern Baptist family who doesn’t even believe in being gay, much less changing your entire identity and your sexual personality. That’s a huge thing. And [the tribe] took it very well. They were like, ‘You don’t look like you would be transgender.’ And I was like, ‘Well, that’s kinda the point because you don’t look like you used to look.'”

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Jackson readily admitted that he “cried” when Jeff gave him the bad news about being removed from the game. “I remember I looked at him and said, ‘I don’t know why I’m crying,'” he recalled. “I mean, I really couldn’t figure it out. I’ve been here three days and I’m crying, but you worked so hard to do this and we went through quarantine and it’s every emotion. You’re angry at yourself for not taking the right precautions. You’re sad about leaving. You’re not mad at Jeff. You’re just mad at the situation.”

Even though he only spent 48 days on the island, Jackson still called his experience a gift. “I’ve never had more fun in my life than in those 48 hours, other than when I got married. That was it. Those are the two most important moments of my life. And I’d do it all over again. Even if I knew I had only two to three days, I’d still do it all over,” he concluded.

Jackson now enters the “Survivor” record books as the 16th person to be removed from the game due to medical reasons. The last such player was Pat Cusack in Season 37 (“David vs Goliath”), who was medevaced in that cycle’s first episode due to a serious back injury.

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