Her 28th win on Friday’s episode of “Jeopardy!” made her the first woman to win over $1 million on the show.
Now at a total sum of $1,019,001, Amy Schneider has become one of four winners to welcome such a feat. But she broke more records and boundaries than that. Schneider, 42, is a transgender woman; the first, in fact, to qualify for the show’s annual Tournament of Champions.
Since her first appearance on the hit game show, Schneider was met with backlash. On Dec. 31, 2021, she took toTwitter, saying “I’d like to thank all the people who have taken the time, during this busy holiday season, to reach out and explain to me that, actually, I’m a man. Every single one of you is the first person ever to make that very clever point, which had never once before crossed my mind.” Just 30 days prior, Schneider got 21 consecutive wins, the most of any woman, a record that formerly belonged to 2014 contestant Julia Collins.
Schneider is extremely open about heridentity, including her caution with being known as “that transgender 'Jeopardy!' winner”. "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,” Schneider wrote.
This phenomenon is extremely common for members of theLGBTQIA+ community. Though representation is important (such instances improve LGBTQIA+ visibility, in turn improving societal acceptance), many queer spaces agree that focusing too much on labels often reduces them to one single story. As author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie reasons in her 2009 Ted Talk, “The Danger of a Single Story”, isolating minority groups into one single literary story or trope minimizes our true understanding of them.
Such an ideal is seen in Schneider’s accomplishments on “Jeopardy!”. Though she is clear that she is not shameful towards her transgender identity, her identity does not have to be the sole focus of her wins.
For example, Matt Amodio is the most recent contestant to join the elite club of $1 million earners before Schneider. When he pulled off this achievement in Sept. 2021, there were no mentions of his gender identity. Though it should be noted that Schneider’s gender is important (her being a woman is the reason she broke a record), it seems as though her beinga transgenderwoman is almost a caveat to the situation.
Schneider has not publicly stated that she feels this way nor has she made any actions to assert that she feels this way. In fact, she told current guest host Ken Jennings that being a “Jeopardy!” millionaire feels “pretty good”. Still, there is a fragile, fine line in media coverage of LGBTQIA+ people. Schneider is a transgender woman who has broken records on one of the most popular game shows. But, just like Amodio and other former “Jeopardy!” winners, she is still just a smart person that should be cheered for because of her intelligenceandidentity. Not just the latter.