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Jeff Varner Says He's 'Profoundly Sorry' for Outing Zeke Smith as Transgender on 'Survivor': 'I Was Wrong'

by Jackie Willis 6:39 AM PDT, April 13, 2017
Playing Jeff Varner Says He's 'Profoundly Sorry' for Outing Zeke Smith as Transgender on 'Survivor': 'I Was Wrong'

Jeff Varner is offering up his "deepest, most heartfelt apologies" after he shocked viewers during Wednesday's episode of Survivor when he outed his fellow castmate, Zeke Smith, as transgender.

In a lengthy post shared after the episode aired, Varner said he "recklessly revealed something" that he "mistakenly believed everyone already knew."

"I was wrong and make no excuses for it," he wrote. "I own responsibility in what is the worst decision of my life."

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"Let me be clear, outing someone is assault," Varner continued. "It robs a strong, courageous person of their power and opens them up to discrimination and danger. It can leave scars that haunt for a lifetime."

Continuing to express how "profoundly sorry" he is for his actions on the CBS show, Verner goes on to praise Smith. "Zeke is a wonderful man and I will forever be amazed and inspired by his forgiveness and compassion," he said. "I thank God for that and the gift of being an example as to why you should never do what I did."

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Varner says he's learning from his explosive mistake. "We as cisgender Americans live with an enormous amount of privilege and should spend time pondering how we can use that for greater good," he concluded his post. "When we disrespect or discriminate, or turn blind eyes to it, we wound all of us. I am deeply saddened at what my mistake unleashed and I promise to use its lesson to do the right thing."

After Varner outed Smith, the tribal council reacted in outrage and unanimously voted to send him home.

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Survivor host Jeff Probst responded to the controversial incident, telling Entertainment Weekly, "I cannot imagine anyone thinking what was done to Zeke was okay on any level, under any circumstances, and certainly not simply because there was a million dollars on the line."

Check out more of Probst's reaction:

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