“Survivor: Game Changer” contestant Jeff Varner landed himself a lot of hot water months before the most recent episode of the show aired, where he is shown revealing that fellow teammate, Zeke Smith, is transgender.
In the episode, he made the revelation, saying, ““There is deception here. Deceptions on levels… that these guys don’t even understand. Why haven’t you told anyone that you’re transgender?”, a decision that cost him his job.
Varner revealed that was fired from his job as a real estate agent after controversy erupted from his decision in the episode and told ETOnline.com, “I didn’t even find out from my company. Suddenly my real estate license was inactive and my current clients [were] left in the dark,
“It took hours after my press junket to get anyone with the company on the phone to tell me personally and even longer to calm my clients, all of whom, by the way, are coming with me to my new firm”, he continued
“My former boss told me that I was in a news story they wanted nothing to do with. I was devastated”.
Since the filming of this now controversial moment, where Varner was voted out by the other tribe members, he has also revealed that he has spent a lot of time “educating myself and advocating even more so for the LGBTQ community”.
“I feel like I was able to do some really good work in that time that I hope to continue”, he continued. “Being unable to talk about it was challenging, but having the episode air, there is a sense of relief that now the true healing can begin”.
Furthermore, while talking to EW Morning Live, a radio program in the US, he told the hosts, “I have been through, I don’t know how much therapy. With the show’s therapist, with a local therapist. I have met with and spoken to several LGBT organizations — I’ve joined the board of a couple of them…. this has changed me drastically.”
In the episode, other contestant can clearly be seen showing their disgust towards Varner for revealing something so personal about another contestant that should have been up to them to reveal in their own time.
The other contestants scolded him for revealing this private information, a decision he didn’t immediately apologize for on the basis that ‘he is a proponent of same-sex and transgender rights’ given he also identifies as gay and continued to say, “I argue for the rights of transgender people every day in the state of North Carolina. I would never say or do anything to hurt anyone here”.
Since then, Varner has offered an apology via Instagram, saying, “I offer my deepest most heart-felt apologies to Zeke Smith, his friends and life allies, his family and all those who my mistake hurt and offended”, and also said his decision was the “worst decision of his life” and added, “let me be clear, outing someone is assault… it robs a strong, courageous person of their power and protection and opens them up to discrimination and danger”.
President and CEO of Allen Tate Real Estate, Varner’s former employers, Pat Riley also released a statement regarding Varner’s firing, saying, “The Allen Tate Companies were built on core values of honesty, integrity and respect. Those fundamental beliefs led us to end our relationship with Mr. Varner, a real estate agent who had become affiliated with our firm just 17 days earlier”.