In accepting an award, Zeke Smith
talked about the importance of transgender visibility.
Roughly a year ago, Smith was outed as
transgender on the CBS reality show Survivor: Game Changers.
During a Tribal Council, Jeff Varner, who is gay, outed Smith, asking
him “Why haven't you told anyone you're transgender?” Smith
explained that he didn't want to be labeled the “trans Survivor
player.” Varner was voted off the show.
At GLAAD's Rising Stars Luncheon at the
29th annual GLAAD Media Awards in New York, Smith accepted
the group's award for outstanding reality program on behalf of
Survivor: Game Changers.
In accepting the award, Smith said that
GLAAD and Survivor completely changed his life.
“Frankly I wasn't too keen on being
super publicly trans. So Survivor put me in touch with GLAAD, and in
particular with GLAAD's king of transgender media, Nick Adams,”
Smith said. “Together with GLAAD, we changed millions of people's
perceptions of transgender people. We shattered stereotypes. We
created a global conversation about privacy and respect.”
“Over the past year, I've met a lot
of trans kids. Transitioning in middle and high school is hard. I see
these kids struggling to retain hope that they'll have an equal shot
in the world. LGBTQ visibility on television matters because for many
it is the only chance to glimpse their future. And to see that it is
very bright,” he
At the event, GLAAD announced the
college students who will receive Rising Stars grants for projects
that use media to accelerate LGBT acceptance.