Trailblazing Jeopardy! champ didn’t want her being trans to seem like a ‘shameful secret’
Eleven-time winner Amy Schneider has revealed why it’s important to proudly represent as a trans person during her time on Jeopardy!.
The 42-year-old appeared on the classic US show for the first time on 17 November, and her incredible winning streak has secured her place in the show’s Tournament of Champions, making her the first ever trans contestant to qualify.
So far, the engineering manager’s wins have also earned her more than $421,000 to date – which is the seventh-highest winnings ever for a contestant during the regular season.
As her impressive streak saw her start to make international headlines, Schneider has been vocal about the importance of representation on TV and how she’s chosen to do her part to increase positive visibility for trans people.
It’s been a blast to watch Amy dominate on Jeopardy—maybe she could even host the show one day. She’s got the smarts for the job, no doubt, but also the heart. https://t.co/RO06I8NqmV
— Jacob Nierenberg (@JacobNierenberg) November 30, 2021
Speaking to the Washington Post about her decision, she explained: “The fact is, I don’t actually think about being trans all that often, and so when appearing on national television, I wanted to represent that part of my identity accurately: as important, but also relatively minor.
“But I also didn’t want it to seem as if it was some kind of shameful secret.”
For the Thanksgiving episode, which aired on 25 November, Schneider wore a trans Pride flag pin and wrote a Twitter thread to explain the moving gesture.
However, the trans Jeopardy! champ had been slightly hesitant about publishing the tweets due to fears she might face unpleasant backlash online.
Maybe the only thing that is more amazing than Amy Schneider's @jeopardy gameplay, is the heartfelt message that she and the show have for all of us! I am so proud and honored and grateful to be part of a trivia family that unequivocally says #TransRights. https://t.co/Pm94icP2Mo
— Josh 🐯 Hill (@joshtigerhill) November 30, 2021
As it became clear she would continue to be on screens for as long as her streak continued, the contestant decided to be a source of inspiration for others watching at home
“I just want them to know that I see them and I support them and they’re great, and they can do great things,” she explained.
Schneider added that she particularly wanted to show people in the closeted phase that it’s possible to “be living your true self and having success and doing everything you ever wanted to do.”
The 11-time winner from Oakland, California has succeeded in her mission, earning a loyal following in the past week and fast becoming a verified “trans icon”.