Over 40 days, Amy Schneider went from an engineering manager to a household name.
With anti-LGBTQ legislation sweeping the country, it feels like poetic justice that a trans woman found a platform for trans visibility to be broadcast into the homes across America.
After two years of a pandemic in which LGBTQ folks all across the country were unable to access their usual bars, centers, and Pride parades, here was Oakland, California, trans woman and Dayton, Ohio, native Schneider queering Jeopardy!, the beloved American game show that has aired in millions of American living rooms for almost 60 years.
Schneider has been a champion for transgender visibility at a time when it’s most needed simply by showing up authentically and sharing her encyclopedic knowledge on a national platform.
The entire country watched as she racked up 40 consecutive wins over 40 days and nearly $1.4 million in prize money, her streak helping boost viewership.
She was a delightful presence, always modest, warm, and sporting her signature string of pearls. It was also an opportunity for Schneider to reflect on her personal journey.
“Six months ago, none of you had heard of Amy Schneider,” she said at the 10th anniversary Queerty Awards. “but six years ago I had never heard of Amy Schneider. There was nobody when I was growing up to actually represent who trans people are.”
“I am so glad that I have given trans people out there the knowledge that this is a thing that trans people can be.”
It was also a pivotal moment, a reckoning, for Schneider, who has been so associated with the program that her Twitter handle is @Jeopardamy. On her final day, she said she handed out thank you notes to the crew, briefly chatted with other contestants, and excused herself.
And finally: thank you all for coming along with me on this journey! I wish I’d had the time to interact more with all of you, but I’ve read as many of your comments and messages as I could, and the overwhelming support and love you all have given me has meant the world to me
— Amy Schneider (@Jeopardamy) January 27, 2022
Schneider had kept working her full-time job while competing in five games a day, twice a week for months, commuting from Oakland to Los Angeles for taping, September through November 2021.
Life has been “tough,” but good, tweeted Schneider.
But it has certainly been worth it. Schneider left the show as the highest-winning woman in Jeopardy! history, earning the admiration of former and current contestants, if not all viewers of the show.
She has found a permanent place in the hearts of many LGBTQ people who never watched the show before–not just because of what she achieved, but because of how she achieved it: with grace and authenticity, sharing tidbits of her personal life with her girlfriend (now fiancée) and their rescue cat, Meep.
Since concluding her winning streak, Schneider has also earned accolades such as a special recognition award from GLAAD and made public appearances, including the recent White House Correspondents’ Dinner.
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She has also paved the way for other future contestants, posting to Twitter, “If you’re a Jeopardy fan that doesn’t see anyone who looks like you on the leaderboards, then I say go, try out, and become that person yourself! I’ll be cheering you on the whole way.”
We’re proud of Schneider for bringing trans visibility into homes across the country and for continuing to use her platform to be a beacon of hope and possibility for trans people and trivia lovers alike.