Trans woman is first ever to win an episode of Jeopardy!: ‘I’m proud to be out and I know representation is important’
A Jeopardy! contestant is celebrating a historic win after claiming a victory in the long-running quiz show.
Kate Freeman, a financial analyst from Lake Orion, Michigan, sported a trans pride pin as she took part in the quiz show on Friday (11 December).
A streak of right answers saw her best Kendra Blanchette, who had won the previous two episodes, taking home $5,599 in winnings.
Fans believe that Freeman is the first out transgender person to win the long-running show, which has been on the air since 1964 and has aired more than 8,000 episodes.
At least one former Jeopardy! champion has transitioned since appearing on the show, former contestant and long-time fan Jennifer Morrow clarified.
There is at least one other J! champ who has publicly spoken about being trans, a multi-game winner in the 1990s, although she used a different name and pronouns during her run.
— Jennifer Morrow (@jenniferemorrow) December 12, 2020
Freeman’s time on the show comes in the final run of episodes featuring the show’s long-serving host Alex Trebek, who passed away from cancer last month.
Jeopardy! win was a ‘dream come true’
Speaking to Michigan Live, Kate Freeman said: “I spent a lot of time learning about and reflecting on my gender identity in grad school, coming out as transgender and lesbian a few months before graduating.
“I’m proud to be out and I know representation is important.”
She added: “It really lived up to my childhood dreams of being on the show. I was honoured to be able to meet Alex before his passing.”
Sadly, Freeman’s time as reigning champ did not last long. She fared less well when she returned on Monday (14 December) to defend her title, losing out to career counsellor Valerie Castelo.
Fans were thrilled with achievement
Her accomplishment was not lost on fans of the show on Reddit. One wrote: “What are the odds she becomes a future Jeopardy! answer? She was the first trans woman to win on Jeopardy!.”
Another added: “That’s pretty f**king awesome! And kudos to Kate for showing her pride on the show!!!
Freeman is not the only Jeopardy! contestant to have shown their pride through pin badges recently.
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Cody Lawrence of Sherman Oaks, California sported a bisexual pride badge a few episodes prior, on 8 December.
He explained: “Tonight I’m on Jeopardy! alongside the late, great Alex Trebek. I took the opportunity to wear my bi pride pin. We need more bi visibility in media.”
“I’ve always been bisexual and first became aware of it when I was 10. It wasn’t until age 26 that I started expressing my truth openly. Everyone should be able to come out on their own terms but bi erasure made that more difficult for me.”
Lawrence fares less well during his appearance, ending in third place.