Entertainment TV Outed as Transgender on Reality TV: 'Survivor' 's Zeke Smith Says 'I Just Wanted to Be Known for My Game' "The message should be clear that hate will always lose," says Survivor contestant Zeke Smith By Patrick Gomez Patrick Gomez Patrick Gomez is the Editor in Chief/General Manager of Entertainment Weekly. Formerly at People magazine and The A.V. Club, the Critics Choice and Television Critics Association member has appeared on 'Today,' 'Extra!,' 'Access Hollywood,' 'E! News,' 'CNN,' and 'Nightline,' and can be seen frequently on 'Good Morning America.' Follow the Texas Native at @PatrickGomezLA wherever your media is social for all things 'For All Mankind' 'Top Chef,' and puppy related. People Editorial Guidelines Published on April 12, 2017 08:46 PM Share Tweet Pin Email When Zeke Smith was cast on Survivor in 2016, the Brooklyn-based asset manager didn’t necessarily plan on sharing that he was transgender. “I didn’t want to be the ‘first transgender Survivor contestant,’ ” Smith says in the current issue of PEOPLE. The 29-year-old debuted on season 33 of the CBS show last fall and returned for the all-star season 34 in March. Monty Brinton/CBS via Getty “I’m not ashamed of being trans, but I didn’t want that to be my story,” he says. “I just wanted to go out on an adventure and play a great game. I just wanted to be known for my game.” Smith was raised in Oklahoma and transitioned while studying religion at Harvard. “My confidence was obliterated, and I was afraid to dream,” Smith says of being depressed during and after his transition. “I realized I needed to take on a big challenge to become the man I wanted to be. For some reason, that was Survivor.” RELATED VIDEO: Tune in to PEN Fan Forum: Survivor with current Survivor contestant Andrea Boehlke for her thoughts on Wednesday’s episode. Though Smith was open about who he was during his Survivor audition, he just didn’t want to discuss it during filming. “When you tell people you’re trans, you get two reactions: Either they look at you funny and pull back, or they go, ‘Aww, that must be so hard.’ I’m a goofy, fun-loving guy, so neither of those reactions work well for me,” he says. So Smith was “shell-shocked” when his competitor Jeff Varner outed him in an attempt to paint him as “deceitful” in the episode airing Wednesday night. To see Smith in the pages of PEOPLE, pick up the latest issue of the magazine, on newsstands Friday “I think he hoped others would believe that trans people are dangerous and fraudulent. That reasoning is infinitely worse than him outing me because it’s the same one used to discriminate against, attack and murder trans people,” Smith says. “What’s great is that nobody bought it.” RELATED VIDEO: ‘Survivor’s’ Zeke Smith on Jeff Varner Outing Him as Transgender on TV: ‘I Really Struggle With Forgiving Him’ Smith praises his cast mates for rebuking the fear tactic and standing by him. “It’s important people see he lost that fight,” says Smith. “The message should be clear that hate will always lose.” Survivor airs Wednesdays (8 p.m. ET) on CBS. To get Survivor contestant — and PEOPLE Now host — Andrea Boehlke’s take, tune in to her PEN Fan Forum: Survivor show immediately after the reality show airs.