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 added.

At the event, GLAAD announced the college students who will receive Rising Stars grants for projects that use media to accelerate LGBT acceptance.