(Warning: the following story contains spoilers!)
Season 42 of Survivor kicked off this week with a 2-hour premiere and an early exit for one castaway who failed to disclose a medical situation to producers until the day before filming began.
Jackson Fox– a 48-year-old healthcare worker from Pasadena, Texas– made his mark this season as the show’s first openly transgender castaway. (Jackson also revealed during the premiere that he applied to be on Season 10 of ’Survivor’ when he was living as a woman, ET reports.)
Unfortunately, Jackson’s ‘Survivor’ run was cut short after host Jeff Probst dropped in on the tribe’s camp to speak with Jackson about requirements put in place by producers for castaways each season. One of the requirements, he noted, includes disclosing any and all medical information, which Jackson had apparently failed to do until the day before filming was set to begin.
Jeff said producers decided to go ahead and cast Jackson in order for him to begin the game “because nothing’s going to happen in 24, 48 hours, so nobody’s worried about you at this point.” Despite this, Jeff explained that there were a lack of resources for testing in the remote location in which they were filming, and the side effects of the intense survival series were a concern to the show’s producers.
Jackson revealed he was currently prescribed lithium– something he began taking around 2016 to help him sleep and deal with his anxiety after he began taking care of his terminally ill mother.
Jackson had shared earlier in the episode during a campfire chat that he moved away from his parents at one point because they weren’t very understanding of his situation; however, when his mother became ill a few years ago, he decided to move back home to help take care of her. Fortunately during that time, his relationship with his parents began to improve.
“My father would ask me, ‘Why’d your mother get sick?’” Jackson said on the show. “And I’d say, ‘Well, I think this was the plan. You and I got a relationship and Mom got to know who I was.’ Survivor makes you take everything and peel it off, be vulnerable and open, and for me, that’s a huge testament for someone who’s always hid who I was.
“My goal is to get to a million dollars, but if that doesn’t happen, the fact that I tried is a huge testament to someone who hid their whole life,” Jackson said during the campfire chat.
As to why he didn’t disclose the details about his medication until the last minute, Jackson told Jeff he “didn’t need it anymore” and mentioned that his wife– who is a nurse– pointed out that because he was weening himself off of the lithium, he would likely be off of it completely once filming began for ‘Survivor.’
Jackson also opened up about the stigma surrounding the use of lithium, while insisting his transition “had nothing to do with” him being on the medication.
“ … I’m a human to know the fear is everyone hears the word lithium and they go way back in time and they’re like, ‘That was a huge drug back in the day,’” he said. “That was a scary drug to be on. Their first thought is the transition. Was it because of the transition? I’m like, ‘That had nothing to do with it.’ If that was the case, I would’ve been on lithium 20 years ago because I was so unhappy, but that wasn’t the case.”
When commended for his openness, Jackson said he wasn’t ashamed to say he needed help with certain things.
“That’s life,” he said.
As Jeff noted some of the ’Survivor’ factors that were a concern for producers– dehydration, stress, lack of sleep, demanding physical challenges– he assured Jackson that the safety of castaways “is paramount.”
While Jackson didn’t get his shot at taking home the grand prize, he told Jeff he understood the situation and was grateful for the opportunity.
“I get it and I appreciate you talking to me about it,” he said. “It’s weird that I’m getting emotional about it, but even to test yourself for 48 hours, it is such an adventure. I take this with love. I know I will be friends with these people. I appreciate you giving me this opportunity.
“For someone who didn’t like anything about them for 40 years, then have someone say people liked things about you that you didn’t know that you were capable of, speaks volumes, and I appreciate it,” Jackson added. “It was the best 48 hours ever.”
(Photos: CBS; Instagram)