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A former Survivor winner voted for a ‘terrifying’ Kentucky law

A former Survivor winner voted for a ‘terrifying’ Kentucky law
Survivor winner and Kentucky legislator Nick Wilson (Photo by Kentucky General Assembly)

Less than a week after actual Nazis joined a protest of a drag performance, Kentucky’s legislature joined the wave of anti-trans, anti-gay legislation across the country.

They passed SB150, which does such things as “establish limitations on school personnel related to instruction and discussion on sexual orientation, sexual preference, or gender expression” and “require school personnel to address his or her child by a specific name or pronoun.”

Kentucky Education Commissioner Jason Glass released a statement that said, in part, “The Kentucky legislature is following a terrifying, but sadly well-trodden path. In the long run, history does not reflect well on such regimes.”

Kentucky’s ACLU called the bill “a host of new laws that are among the most extreme anti-trans attacks in the United States.”

The Lexington Herald-Leader compiled “how each member of the Kentucky House of Representatives voted on Senate Bill 150, an omnibus anti-LGBTQ bill that includes a ban on gender-affirming health care for Kentucky’s transgender youth”

That includes the representative for district 82, Nick Wilson, winner of Survivor David vs. Goliath: He voted yes.

A portrait of a person smiling with an American flag and Kentucky flag in the background
Survivor winner and Kentucky legislator Nick Wilson (Photo by Kentucky General Assembly)

Nick is currently serving his first term; he ran unopposed last fall. Here’s a list of legislation he’s co-sponsored so far.

What did Nick support with his yes vote on SB150? The Courier-Journal summarizes the legislation, which seemed to have been abandoned but was then reintroduced at the last minute with substantial changes:

SB 150’s initial provisions, including one allowing teachers to misgender their students, remain intact. A new section added a ban on gender-affirming medical care for trans youths, despite medical experts and their professional associations saying such care is safe and effective treatment for children with gender dysphoria.

Doctors would be required to set a timeline to detransition children already taking puberty blockers or undergoing hormone therapy. They would be allowed to continue offering care as they taper a child’s treatments, if immediately taking them off the treatment could harm the child, the bill says.

Schools would not be allowed to discuss sexual orientation or gender identity with students of any age — a key provision of “Don’t Say Gay” bills across the country. Schools would not be allowed to talk about sexually transmitted diseases or human sexuality before sixth grade and would need to require parental consent in sixth grade and up.

A provision requires school districts to craft bathroom policies that, “at a minimum,” will not allow trans kids to use the bathroom tied to their gender identities.

Kentucky’s governor will likely veto the bill, but the legislature can override his veto.

On Monday morning, I contacted Nick at his official Kentucky address, asking him why he supported SB 150, and asking him for his thoughts on the reaction to his vote. I’ll update if/when I hear back.

Survivor alum—and /r/Survivor—react to Nick’s vote

Nick Wilson, Survivor David vs. Goliath, immunity challenge win
Nick Wilson after one of his three immunity challenge wins during the Survivor David vs. Goliath finale. (Image from Survivor via CBS)

Other Survivor and reality TV alum have been reacting to Nick’s vote on social media, both directly and indirectly.

For example, Survivor David vs. Goliath cast member Gabby Pascuzzi tweeted that Nick is “a former friend [who] voted for a bill that harms the rights of people like me & my friends. people are getting bolder with what they’re saying out loud. we cannot go on like this!!”

Survivor Millennials vs. Gen X winner Adam Klein tweeted, “I am heartbroken and ANGRY at the way trans people and especially trans children are being discriminated against all over this country. We are going so, so backwards. If you take away gender-affirming care from a kid who needs it, you are on the so, so, so wrong side of history.”

Nick does have some Survivor community support, such as from Jeff Varner, who outed Zeke Smith on Survivor and now has a Twitter timeline full of anti-trans people tweets and retweets, such as suggesting a father should be arrested.

A person with a beard smiling, wearing a green sleeveless shirt
Ricard Foye on Survivor 41 (Photo by CBS)

Perhaps the most searing indictment came from Survivor 41 player Ricard Foyé, who tweeted a thread about his interaction with Nick a few months ago:

This is what confuses the shit out of me. I spent time with Nick Wilson in December. So kind. So sweet. Felt such a good connection that we ended up grabbing a beer & talked about my husband being pregnant (this right before we lost her) & couldn’t have felt more understood.

Who the fuck was that person I met? Honestly? If you’re accepting behind closed doors but your political career allows you to disregard the actual real life people in front of you… who the fuck are you? I don’t know this man who votes against trans & gay rights. I don’t.

Do you even know yourself? Everything, all this political madness, is such a fucking act and for what. Fucking WHAT. We bonded over our babies being on the way, as two soon to be (3rd time for me) dads… but I guess my fam ain’t really shit, huh? Erasing our pic now. I’m good.

Elsewhere online, the Survivor communities on Reddit have also been discussing this, but many of those posts have been removed, despite this being conversation about a public figure and public official’s vote—a vote that will affect other people’s lives.

Lyrsa Maria, who was also on Survivor David vs. Goliath with Nick, posted to Reddit about how the /r/Survivor subreddit was removing discussions about Nick’s vote—and then the moderators removed her post.

Other threads have been removed by /r/Survivor moderators or removed automatically. The mods also removed a thread by Survivor alum Eliza Orlins. The mods did, finally, create a “Nick Wilson News” thread to allow discussion, but without explaining their decision to censor all other mentions.

Reddit itself deleted a post about Nick’s vote, claiming it was “targeted harassment.” A post in a splinter Survivor subreddit discussing all of this was also removed by Reddit.

Despite that suppression of discussion, Nick’s action is being widely condemned, though that won’t stop the law from hurting people.

If you’d like to do something to help trans people, I’ve compiled a list of resources here.

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About the author

  • Andy Dehnart

    Andy Dehnart is the creator of reality blurred and a writer and teacher who obsessively and critically covers reality TV and unscripted entertainment, focusing on how it’s made and what it means.

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Monday 10th of April 2023

It's absolutely appalling that Nick Wilson turned out to be a collaborator who quotes Christofascist dogma.