Zeke Smith, who was outed as transgender on national television last week, was back in the game on Wednesday's episode of "Survivor."
The "Survivor: Game Changers" episode started the morning after contestant Jeff Varner was voted out of the game after revealing that Smith is transgender.
Smith told his teammates that he was "very touched" by their response but "didn’t want people to cry and yell."
"One of the reasons I didn’t tell people is I sort of wanted people to see me as myself," he said. "Often in my life when I tell people I’m trans, it’s sort of what they’re interested in. And everything else about me sort of gets pushed to the wayside."
Ironically, having his gender identity revealed on national television, Smith said, has helped him get over some of those insecurities.
"'Survivor,' it makes you tough, it makes you resilient, and it makes you adaptable," the 29-year-old confessed to the camera. "I think I had all those qualities before, but they’ve certainly been strengthened and grown. And I think I was able to be a little more brave and a little bolder, to help others, and also to get over my own fears and to get over my own issues and complexes and insecurities of being transgender."
"It is heartening in this game ... that people who are out to get you in some regard do come to your defense," Smith added. "But in the meantime, there’s still a task at hand. A task that I’m rather committed to. I’m here to win a million dollars. I’m here to play 'Survivor.' So let’s just get back to it."
Later, when Smith's tribe merged with the competing tribe, he shared what happened in the tribal council and that he is transgender.
"Though it happened in a way that I wasn't crazy about, I think I, like all of you, am forever changed, and forever evolved by my experience on 'Survivor' and was a much stronger and more capable person in that moment," he told his new tribe mates.
After last week's episode, which was taped 10 months ago, aired, Varner was fired from his job at a North Carolina real estate company.
Smith wrote in a guest column for The Hollywood Reporter that he's not "wild" about people knowing that he is trans, but is proud of the way he handled it.