Hannah Shapiro was a runner-up on Survivor season 33: Millennials vs. Gen X. She"ll be recapping Survivor season 34: game Changers. Follow Hannah top top Twitter 

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(Editor"s note: This article contains spoiler from episode six of Survivor: video game Changers.)

At Survivor: video game Changers" episode-six defect council, millions of viewers watched Zeke Smith, a transgender man, being assaulted in the many personal, grotesque method imaginable under the guise that a game-show move. Make no mistake: What Jeff Varner does to Zeke — outing him as trans without his consent — is no slip of the tongue. It"s an attempt to humiliate him.

Varner walks right into tribal knowing he"s going home. His reaction to a instance of distress was to hurl his emotion of betrayal back at Zeke, who was formerly a confidant. 

"I really choose you and I hope we have the right to be friends," Varner tells Zeke in the start of the episode, after ~ Zeke speak Varner he"s sincere about working through him.

But in ~ tribal, Varner tries to to convince the people that Zeke"s identification as a trans guy is the greatest reason he"s been deceptive.

"There is deception here," Varner states at tribal. "Deception on level these guys don"t even understand. There"s more. Why haven"t you told anyone you"re transgender? What I"m showing is a deception."

Breaking under transgender stereotypes

I got to out come Nick Adams, manager of GLAAD"s Transgender Media Program, in order to gain a knowledgeable perspective on what simply happened.

"Jeff Varner tried come use one of the worst stereotypes about transgender people to save his own skin in ~ Tribal Council," Adams described. "He accused Zeke of being deceptive and also lying come the the various other players top top the show because he didn"t automatically disclose the truth that the is transgender once he started playing." 

Moreover, Adams said, "this idea that transgender human being are just living their resides as your authentic selves are deceptive or lying or fooling civilization is one of the basic misconceptions of who transgender world are the lead directly to the sort of discrimination and often violence versus us."

Zeke blacksmith didn"t need to share his sex story

Full disclosure: Zeke is mine friend. Us played together on Survivor season 33: Millennials vs. Gen X. In order to know the influence of this moment on mine friend, you must recognize something around Zeke. Zeke is one of the many well-spoken and capable males I know. He often teaches me about holding my own and not letting myself succumb to moments throughout the day. To watch him immobile because that the moments that he is — "on one island the his own" — is jarring. Over there is a tangible pain there, a tangible humiliation. And also that is what I believe Varner supposed to carry out at tribal. Beyond any game-move excuse, Varner want to humiliate Zeke and make him feeling as awful as that did at the moment.

When Zeke and I starved on an island together, i did not understand his sex history, and it didn"t matter. Zeke always projected the utmost confidence, an nearly unbreakable feeling of self and also drive. His toughness and capacity to form relationships was among the countless reasons I observed him together a huge competitor. Despite our common dark sense of humor, I saw Zeke together quite various from me. I was a panic-attack-prone, social-anxiety-laden nerd who didn"t constantly believe it s her to it is in capable. Zeke to be the summary of cool — anxiety-free and confident. Zeke had bravado in everything he walk in Fiji. He began fires, developed shelters and also caught tribe immunity idols v ease. He was brave. I was not.

Zeke had every right on mine season of Survivor no to share that he to be transgender, and also had every right the next season to carry out the same.

That"s why talking around your gender background is therefore complicated, Adams described to me.

"What frequently happens with transgender civilization is that as soon as you phone call someone that you"re transgender, instead of gift seen an ext authentically, like as soon as you disclose your sexual orientation to someone, your identity is regularly questioned," Adams says. "And now all of a sudden world want to know private details about past. And also may put an asterisk alongside name."


Hannah and Zeke on "Survivor" season 33CBS

The reaction in ~ the Nuku defect council

Each night throughout our season, Zeke and I would certainly wander down to the beach, snuggle in the sand and plot how we would eliminate all the various other folks that were taking up room at camp. Zeke and also I have become even closer turn off the island. He"s one of the many brilliant, hard-working, thoughtful, empathetic and downright funny human being I have ever before met. He has come to be my person. 

While Zeke gift transgender does shade in his history for me, it doesn"t change the core of ours friendship in the least. Vital element the the tribal tonight was the incredible assistance Zeke uncovered in his people mates. They refused to to buy what Varner to be selling. Varner gift them with hateful rhetoric, lock responded with a firm display of love.

Understand the Zeke to be still in a video game for a million dollars. He had actually to balance gift attacked, calming his tribemates and also maintaining his head every within this context. 

Zeke had the ability to be solid and articulate his thoughts in a method most wouldn"t be in his situation. In ~ the finish of the episode, that says, "If metamorphosis is words of the episode, i feel choose I"ve checked out such a metamorphosis the myself, over the past — ns think this day is day 52 that I"ve play Survivor. And also I don"t understand that the scared boy that fight the mat in the marooning that 33 would be as calm as I am right now. But I have actually started two fires with just bamboo, I"ve won challenges, I"ve been component of blindsides. I"ve done every kinds of stunner stuff and also I am a changed, stronger, far better man this day than ns was then."

Zeke says that he"s uncertain of the title of "role model," but it came to be clear the he"s someone many young civilization will look up to after this moment.

Sarah Lacina, his allied on the show, was also especially brilliant. Sarah"s empathy rotate an ugly moment into a powerful message. 

I"m just thankful that I obtained to recognize Zeke for who Zeke is. I"ve been with him for the last 18 days and also he"s supervisor kick-ass. ... I"m indigenous the midwest, i come from a really conservative background, it"s not really diverse when it involves a many gay and lesbian and transgender and also things choose that therefore I"m not exposed come it as much as these human being are. And also the reality that I have the right to love this guy so much. And it doesn"t readjust anything because that me, makes me realize the I"ve grown substantial as a person. Of course we want to come away through the million dollars yet the metamorphosis the I"ve also made together a person that ns didn"t realize until this minute is invaluable.

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Hannah and also ZekeHannah Shapiro

There is no excuse for what taken place tonight. Zeke, his friends, his family and the entire transgender community will feel the affect of what simply aired for years come come. At tribal, Varner reveals Zeke"s identity not just to his tribemates, however to the country — the last illustration of Survivor reached nearly 9 million viewers. This 15-minute moment of television becomes Zeke"s life.

Survivor is a heightened variation of society. It highlights the ugliest parts of what we room as humans, yet it also highlights the strength and also love that emerges in awful situations. This will certainly be a minute that will certainly be digested and processed over the coming weeks. Over there is much to discuss. But for tonight: I"m proud that my finest friend. I love him very much.