First Openly Transgender ‘Survivor’ Contestant to Appear in Season 42

Jackson Fox Survivor 42

CBS "Survivor 42" castaway Jackson Fox.

“Survivor” has been known for promoting an inclusive cast, language, and atmosphere  in recent seasons. CBS recently announced a “diversity pledge,” for instance, in which at least 50% of contestants would be people of color starting on season 41. Gay and non-binary contestants (notably season 41’s Evvie Jagoda) have also been featured more so in recent seasons, with host Jeff Probst also nixing the word “guys” from his iconic catchphrase in an attempt to be more inclusive.

However, there has yet to be an openly transgender person as part of the “Survivor” cast. The only transgender person on the show that we know of was Zeke Smith, who was infamously outed in his second season by Jeff Varner. “Survivor 42” has broken that trend, with Jackson Fox becoming the first openly trans castaway to compete on the show.

Here’s everything you need to know about Jackson:

Jackson Believes His Late-in-Life Transition Will Help Him on ‘Survivor’

Jackson Fox

CBSJackson Fox in his introductory video.

Jackson Fox, 48, is originally from Pasadena, TX, but now lives in Houston, and is currently a hospital transporter. In his introductory video, Jackson said that the life experience which has prepared him the most for “Survivor” was his coming out. “I think if you can go [through] the process of pretty much revitalizing your entire life and bearing it all, I think you can go on ‘Survivor’ and bear it all as well,” he said. Jackson added that he wants that aspect of his life to “be a part of who I am, because it made me who I am.”

In his pre-game interview with Parade, Jackson revealed that he transitioned later in life – at 40, to be exact. “That’s not an easy thing to do when you come from a Southern Baptist home,” he said. “But I think if I can go through that kind of a transition, I can definitely do ‘Survivor’.”

Jackson also said his biggest advantage is his Southern charm. “Once they get to know me,” Jackson said of his tribemates, “I’m gonna win people over slowly but surely. I get along with a tree stump, so I think the Southern charm will win over.”

He added that he wants to play the game as honorably as possible, but still wanted to see a blindside or two. “I want people to say, I treated people with respect but at the same time I wanna be able to go through a really big blindside,” he revealed. “Hopefully it’s not on you, but you wanna see one.”

He also highlighted his soft side with animals in his CBS bio. When asked what people might not know just by looking at him, he responded:

I used to be a girl. I’m covered in tattoos. I’m a big softy when it comes to animals. I’m a collector of hurt or abandoned animals.

Jackson Applied to the Show 10 Years Ago

In his Parade interview, Jackson revealed that he actually applied for the show 10 years ago, but was only contacted recently for season 42. “Actually,” he said, “this was probably the best time. Ten years ago, I wouldn’t have done very well at all. [Now], I’ve grown, and this is the perfect time to do ‘Survivor’.”

When it comes to past players he most relates to, he had a few different answers. In his bio, he referred to season 39 contestant Elaine Stott, a Kentucky-born, gay factory worker. Jackson said: “She was hard-working, confident, resilient and played a hell of a mind game! You couldn’t not like her.”

However, when asked in Parade which winner and non-winner he related with the most, he responded Adam Klein and Cirie Fields, respectively. When it came to Adam, Jackson said, “He had just such a passion for playing the game. And he got a lot of flack in it because he did flip and flop and move around. But he stuck to his core…Adam deserved it.”

When it came to Cirie, Jackson highlighted her likability. “I loved Cirie!” he said. “She had the best attitude. She was kind, but she was also a go-getter. And everybody loved her personality. I think she’s wonderful.”

Whether Jackson will indeed be able to pull off a game like Cirie’s or Adam’s will only be revealed as the season airs. “Survivor” airs Wednesdays 8 p.m. Eastern on CBS. Season 42 will premiere on March 9.

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