A lifelong “Jeopardy!” fan has made history on the show.
After winning five consecutive games, Amy Schneider became the first openly transgender contestant to qualify for the “Tournament of Champions” last week. On Tuesday night she became a 10-day champion.
Other trans contestants have appeared on the show before. Last year, Kate Freeman became the first out trans champion. But Schneider is the first to make it to the elite competition, made up of the past year’s top players.
Schneider, an engineering manager who lives in Oakland, California, told San Francisco TV station ABC7 in an interview this week that other trans contestants in the spotlight inspired her not to be afraid of competing in the game she’d always loved.
“Seeing trans people anywhere in society that you haven’t seen them before is so valuable for the kids right now that are seeing it,” she said.
“I’m so grateful that I am giving some nerdy little trans kid somewhere the realization that this is something that they could do too,” she added.
Schneider, who grew up in Ohio, said she watched the show from a young age because her parents always had it on.
“My mom was a college professor so was always very interested in learning, and she really instilled that in me,” she said during her Winner’s Circle interview Tuesday night.
One of her influences was a trans comedian, Natasha Muse, whom she discovered when she first moved to San Francisco, she said.
“Growing up in the Midwest in a conservative family, I had gotten kind of a distorted idea of what it meant to be trans, and so seeing her being smart and funny and cool and just a normal person with a normal life and kids and everything like that just showed me that it was something that I could possibly be, and that really made a difference for me,” she explained.
Watch the interview below.