I do not watch Survivor. Let me state that up front. Nothing against the show, I used to watch it, I just haven't in a long time.
That being said, I know it is out there. Can even name some of the players.
As of this morning, I can name two in particular: Zeke and Varner.
As of last night's airing of the Survivor episode, their lives are both forever changed. One, I hope for the better - Zeke. One, who deserves the derision tsunami heading his way.
You see, Zeke Smith, in a heinous moment of what is charitably described as self preservation, was outed by Jeff Varner as being transgender. Jeff being almost assuredly ready to be voted off the island as they sat around the fire debating who would "die" in that episode.
His words meant to provoke some sense of outrage from the other competitors. “Why haven’t you told anyone that you’re transgender?” The words dripping with "Ah ha! You big deceiver! NOW let's see who gets voted off!"
The video is out there to see. The shock, the hurt, the confusion written on Zeke's face. His piece, sharing so openly about his life and that moment, can be read here. It is a heartfelt, candid, baring of the soul that I would encourage all to invest in.
Varner quickly found that his big reveal only revealed one thing - That he is a shitful excuse for a human being. A vote was not even necessary. He was gone.
That being said, his flame may have been extinguished, but his actions have stoked a raging bonfire of discussion.
For me, it boils down to one thing - when something is none of your fucking business.
This notion that Zeke was running some deception on everyone is one of the main misconceptions about transgender people as a whole. Living their lives as who they are is not a deception. It is what you do every single day you wake up, get out of bed, and go out into the world. Do you have a fat ass in your past? Maybe you were anorexic. Did you used to be an insufferable asshole who saw the light and changed? Maybe you hit a puppy with your car when you were 16. Did you have a mastectomy and now wear inserts in your bra? Are you being treated for depression? OCD? A disease? Perhaps you can't get an erection without a pill? Do you have herpes? HPV? HIV? Poison ivy? The list of what lives under your surface is endless and nobody's business unless you tell them.
A transgender person is under no obligation at any time to inform you that they are transgender. This notion of "deceiving" is utter and complete bullshit. You are not entitled to a transgender person's history or transition path. If they choose to share it with you, that is their's to decide. And if you have been trusted with their personal truth, it is not yours to disseminate to others.
If a transgender person decides to tell no one, it is not about deceiving you. It is about a personal choice. Quite frankly, it should be as important as telling you what their favorite flavor of ice cream is. IT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH WHO THEY ARE AS A PERSON.
My son is transgender. We made a decision almost a year ago to be public about this. To be open and honest and candid in the hopes we could open some eyes and hearts and minds. To make this relateable. To help people see that he is a human being - no more, no less than are you. To pull back the curtain on what transitioning means, to teach that every transgender person is on a singular, unique journey of their own. That just as there is no "one size fits all" with cis people, neither is there a "one size fits all" for transgender people.
And the reason is that human beings are complex. Every single one of us is just that: SINGLE. Unique, different in a million tiny ways. What happens next is that society decides certain things that set a person apart from the herd are scary, bad, to be subject to discrimination, ostracization, demoralization. We have seen this pattern repeat throughout the history of humanity. Religion, skin color, sexual preference, gender identity - all being dragged to the chopping block.
And when too many in society gather around that chopping block, the most heinous things take place. The Crusades, slavery, lynchings, beatings, hell, even the Crucifixtion took place in the bloody warmth of group think. Ooo! I'm safe because the finger is not pointed at me!
Outings, like Zeke's, are no different. The trans suicide attempt rate is 41%, largely because society is a scary fucking place for transgender people. Transgender women of color are murdered at an alarming rate. MURDERED. Because this idea of "deception" is so ingrained that people feel substantiated in killing another human being.
Let me again be clear - IT IS NONE OF YOUR FUCKING BUSINESS.
Our choice has been to be open, transparent as we travel this path with our son. It is with his knowledge, consent, and contribution that I write about it. That is OUR choice. For now. At some point down the road, the only new people who will know he is transgender are those he chooses to bring into his confidence. A new friend, a professor, perhaps a lover. And at those points, he will control the narrative. He will decide. And it will be scary every single time because of this notion of deception. Not because he is deceiving you. But because you may be masquerading as an open, accepting person when in fact you are revealed to be a shitful, ignorant bigot.
Transgender people are not running some scam on you. It is not a ruse. They are simply trying to live their lives, just like you, just like me.
I see this online a lot: MYOB. Mind your own business. If this is your mindset about your particulars, why would you think it does not extend to everyone else?
I applaud Zeke for his bravery, his grace, his ability to even respond when this happened to him. I have seen many start to argue "well, he went on a big program, so he took this chance." Apologists in action. Yes, he went on this show. As the competitor he is. As the man he is. He did not trade on the word transgender to get noticed by producers. He simply went on as a competitor. He did not go on to have some asshole betray his confidence and then use his being transgender as some unforgivable sin.
And for those who have made much over the fact that they are shocked Varner, a gay man, did this to another person is the LGBTQIA community? Don't be. PEOPLE ARE PEOPLE. Period. There are good, bad, shitty, compassionate, backstabbing, conniving, and honest ones in every strata of society. Being gay does not mean someone can't still be an inherent asshole. Being transgender doesn't mean someone can't be a racist. Being Christian doesn't mean someone is actually loving. The LGBTQIA community is not one big kumbaya collective. There is cattiness, hate, and yes, discrimination within the ranks. Sad, but true.
What Varner revealed about himself in that episode is who he is as a HUMAN BEING. His homosexuality has as little to do with his humanity as does Zeke being transgender.
Look, you have been around transgender people your entire life. You just don't know it. If you feel deceived to read that statement, ask yourself WHY?
And then read this statement till it sinks in: This is one of those times when it's none of your fucking business.