×

‘Survivor’ Contestant Fired From Job After Transgender Outing Controversy

Jeff Varner, the “Survivor” contestant who made headlines for outing a fellow contestant as transgender, was fired from his job as a real estate agent in North Carolina this week as a result of the incident.

The News & Record newspaper of Greensboro reported on Thursday that Varner was let go from his job as an agent for South Carolina-based Allen Tate Real Estate following the April 12 airing of the “Survivor” episode, which was shot last year in Fiji.

During the closing tribal council sequence, Varner disclosed that fellow contestant Zeke Smith is a transgender male, a move seen as a bid to gain advantage in the elimination competition. The tribal council wound up voting Varner off the show. After the airing, the incident sparked an online backlash against Varner and much discussion about the ethics of outing another person.

Varner, who is gay, apologized to Smith on the show and has repeatedly apologized in numerous interviews this week.

The News and Record reported Varner was told he was fired because he was “in the middle of a news story that we don’t want anything to do with.”

North Carolina has been in the center of a transgender rights struggle after the state last year passed a law that banned cities from allowing transgender people to use public restrooms of the gender with which they identify. The move generated a swift response, with a slew of major corporations and organizations such as the NBA and NCAA pulling business out of the state. The law was repealed late last month.

Some observers said there was a silver lining to the “Survivor” incident in that it offered viewers the chance to see Smith embraced by his fellow “Survivor” castaways.

“Zeke Smith, and transgender people like him, are not deceiving anyone by being their authentic selves, and it is dangerous and unacceptable to out a transgender person,” said Nick Adams, director of GLAAD’s Transgender Media Program. “It is heartening, however, to see the strong support for Zeke from the other people in his tribe. Moments like this prove that when people from all walks of life get to know a transgender person, they accept us for who we are.”

(Pictured: Jeff Varner)

More TV

  • Stephen Moore

    Stephen Moore, 'Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy' Android, 'Doctor Who' Actor, Dies at 81

    Stephen Moore, best known for his roles as the paranoid android Marvin in “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” radio series and the Silurian Eldane in “Doctor Who,” has died. He was 81. “The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy” producer Dirk Maggs confirmed Moore’s death Sturday on Twitter, writing, “Our dear friend Stephen Moore has [...]

  • Baghdad-Central-Image

    Fremantle, Hulu Bringing 'Baghdad Central' to United States

    Fremantle is partnering with Hulu to bring the UK drama “Baghdad Central” to the United States, Fremantle announced Monday. The latest in Hulu’s growing slate of international content, “Baghdad Central” will launch on Channel 4 in the United Kingdom and stream on Hulu in 2020. Based on the novel by Elliott Colla, the six-part drama [...]

  • Endemol Shine, China’s Hunan TV Duet

    Endemol Shine, China’s Hunan TV Duet on ‘Sing or Spin’ (EXCLUSIVE)

    Global production and distribution giant Endemol Shine is to duet with leading Chinese producer and broadcaster Hunan TV on primetime entertainment format “Sing or Spin,” which has an innovative spin: a revolving stage that lets singers know how well they are scoring. The show has been co-developed by Endemol Shine China and Hunan TV as [...]

  • 'Succession': Nicholas Braun, Matthew Macfadyen on

    'Succession' Stars Nicholas Braun, Matthew Macfadyen Break Down How To Make a Tomelette

    You can’t make a Tomelette without breaking some Greggs, and you can’t get through an episode of ‘Succession’ without a few rounds of riffing, at least according to Nicholas Braun (who plays Greg Hirsch) and Matthew Macfadyen (who portrays Tom Wamsgans). “We basically improv in probably every scene to some capacity,” says Braun. Though the [...]

  • Manchester City Football Club Animated Series

    Manchester City Soccer Team Animated Series in the Works (EXCLUSIVE)

    “Sky Blue Academy,” an animated series set inside the training academy of reigning English Premier League champions Manchester City, is in the works, Variety has learned. The Pep Guardiola-managed team has enjoyed numerous successes in recent years and broken into world soccer’s elite, becoming a global brand in the process. The show will follow a [...]

  • LIVING WITH YOURSELF

    TV Review: 'Living with Yourself'

    Paul Rudd is such a naturally ebullient actor that it can be startling to see him ground down. A gifted physical performer who, at 50, looks so youthful that his appearance tends to precede all other attributes when he’s discussed, Rudd also still has the verve and energy of a rising star — a quality [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content