Wednesday’s episode of Survivor: Game Changers was one for the ages. After the Nuku tribe lost yet another immunity challenge, it looked like it was either Zeke or Ozzy becoming the next person to go home. When Jeff Varner started to shake things up at camp by saying to the girls that Zeke and Ozzy are working together and Zeke would turn on them in a heartbeat. Well, that was the beginning of one of the harshest moves in Survivor history. On night 18, the Nuku tribe was returning to Tribal Council for the fourth time in a row. As usual, Jeff Probst brought up the topic of trust and loyalty. At first, it was a typical Tribal Council. Then, in a blink of an eye, it turned very personal when Varner revealed a big secret about Zeke. Varner revealed that Zeke was transgender.
Once Zeke was outed by Varner, Zeke took it with stride. He told his tribemates, and the world, that he didn’t want to be remembered as “Zeke the transgender, but Zeke the Survivor player.” Then the Nuku tribe, minus Zeke who was in shock, put Varner on blast for what he did to Zeke. After his tribe gave Varner a verbal beating, they decided to vote him out over Zeke or Ozzy.
In a report with Reality Blurred, Jeff said that Varner was fired from his job as a real-estate agent in California, which he had since December of 2016. He was fired for what he did to Zeke during Wednesday’s episode. “I wanted to come home,” he told the Triad Business Journal in February. “All my friends seem to be in real estate. I’d always wanted to give it a try. And I figured now is the time.”
Also in the report, Varner mentioned the now infamous Tribal Council. He says that after it all happened, he still doesn’t think he did anything wrong. He says “That was my messed-up thinking at the time. I thought that the viewers knew and everybody knew. So when I was arguing at Tribal and I say, ‘I thought everybody knew,’ I was talking about everybody at home watching already knew.”
“Trans people are a highly vulnerable population. We make easy targets. We’re attacked a lot and I expected a lot more from Varner,” Smith told People. “But I think it’s so great that you see his hateful tactics rebuffed with such amazing love and from such a diverse group at tribal that night.”
After the episode aired, Jeff went to social Media to post an apology to the Survivor public and most importantly Zeke.
Written by Christopher Mabry
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Autism After 16 and USA Magazine