‘Survivor’ contestant outed as transgender

April 13, 2017 GMT

There’s “Survivor,” the godfather of reality TV, and then there’s real life.

During Wednesday night’s episode, contestant Jeff Varner outed Zeke Smith as transgender during the tribal council part of the CBS show.

While the show is aired months after it is filmed, it still was a shocking moment for viewers at home, who quickly took to social media to blast Varner for his actions. He tried to defend what he did by saying that Smith was being deceptive.

The moment came before the contestants vote on who to kick off the island, which is usually a mix of players lobbying to stay on and make their case. During Wednesday’s show, there was no vote.

Host Jeff Probst just asked for a show of hands and the remaining contestants all sent Varner home.

Varner’s self-defense was not a success with other players, some of whom were in tears. Probst questioned Varner, an openly gay man, about his decision to out Smith as a “game move.”

Fellow contestants rallied around Smith as he explained, “One of the reasons I didn’t want to lead with that is because I didn’t want to be like, the trans Survivor player. I want to be Zeke the Survivor player.”