After Survivor: Game Changers contestant Jeff Varner outed fellow castaway Zeke Smith as transgender, Varner faced public backlash. Now, he's dealing with professional repercussions.
Varner tells Entertainment Tonight that he was fired from his North Carolina real estate job in "an ugly, knee-jerk reaction kind of way."
"I was devastated (and not) given the chance to explain or right the wrong," he said about being let go from Allen Tate Real Estate. "I didn't even find out from my company. Suddenly, my real estate license was inactive and my current clients (were) left in the dark. It took hours after my press junket (for Survivor) to get anyone with the company on the phone to tell me personally, and even longer to calm my clients. ... My former boss told me that I was in a news story they wanted nothing to do with."
'Survivor' contestant outed as trans in tense, enlightening episode
Varner, a former local news anchor who has competed three times on Survivor, says he's talking to other real estate firms and preparing to bring his former clients "with me to my new firm."
Since outing Smith during tribal council in the episode that aired last Wednesday, Varner has apologized, calling the outing "the worst decision of my life." Smith has written about the experience of being outed by someone in a column for The Hollywood Reporter.