Outrage over the outing of transgender "Survivor" contestant

(CBS) - During Wednesday night's Tribal Council, contestant Jeff Varner claimed there was deceit in the group and asked Zeke Smith why he hadn't told everyone he was transgender.

Smith sat speechless before uttering the following words.

"The two seasons I've played Survivor I've told no one," said Smith.

Smith opened up more in The Hollywood Reporter.

The outing sparked outrage from all of the contestants, including host Jeff Probst, who asked Varner why he felt the need to stoop so low in order to try and stay on the show.

Varner said he told everyone to show Smith's deception. He said he wasn't trying to be mean.

"I would never say or do anything to hurt anyone here," said Varner during the episode.

He said he was arguing to stay on the show.

Varner released the following statement after the show aired on his social media channels.

"Yep. I did that. And I offer my deepest, most heart-felt apologies to Zeke Smith, his friends and life allies, his family and to all those who my mistake hurt and offended. I recklessly revealed something I mistakenly believed everyone already knew. I was wrong and make no excuse for it. I own responsibility in what is the worst decision of my life.

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. It can leave scars that haunt for a lifetime. I am profoundly sorry. Zeke is a wonderful man and I will forever be amazed and inspired by his forgiveness and compassion. I thank God for that and the gift of being an example as to why you should never do what I did.

We cisgender Americans live with an enormous amount of privilege and should spend time pondering how we use that for the greater good. 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 lessons to do the right thing."

Varner was eliminated from the show this week.

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