Jeopardy Champion Amy Schenider Makes History

On Jan 7, 2022, Amy Schneider surpassed $1 million on Jeopardy, making her the first woman to reach that milestone. Not only is she the first woman, but also the first openly transgender woman to do so. Her 40-day winning streak made her the second-longest Jeopardy winning champion. Her win is a massive stride for women in a game show with top male champions. For transgender representation, it’s a move in the right direction. 

Schneider, a 42-year-old engineering manager from Oakland, California began her reign of victory last fall. In September, she started filming for Jeopardy, and her episodes began airing in November. She surpassed former second-place champion Matt Amodio’s 38-day winning streak in November. Schneider’s last Jeopardy appearance aired on Jan. 26. She speaks of her experience as one of both exhaustion and relief. Since her episodes aired after her accomplishment, she knew what the rest of the world didn’t: she made history. 

Her accomplishment was historic, as was her technique. Her impressive speed and accuracy led her to this victory. She adopted a traditional playing style in which she played for longevity rather than money. Instead of scouring the board for Daily Doubles by moving all around the board, she stayed in the same category and played it from top to bottom. She paced herself and kept her wagers reasonable. 

PHOTO COURTESY/ YouTube Jeopardy!

In a New York Times article, Schneider mentioned how she initially planned to alter her voice to a more feminine tone on the show. Instead, she chose to speak in her regular voice to avoid impacting her gameplay. The significance of her TV appearances are not lost on Schneider. “Trans women watching can see me with my voice as it is and see me being OK with it,” said Schneider. 

Different voices need to be amplified across media, especially underrepresented voices. In this case, Schneider’s voice is representation for other transgender women who struggle with gender dysphoria. There is a history of online harassment that female Jeopardy alums encounter after their appearances. It was doubly so for Schenider as a transgender woman. The discrimination she faced was certainly not surprising and more commonplace than anything else. 

An increase of representation of minority groups will combat discrimination and inspire the next generation of children who see themselves on the big screen. Young women and transgender kids can look up to Amy Schneider and see that it is possible for a transgender woman to reach these heights. A lack of representation creates a void that desperately needs to be filled. According to The New York Times, there were around 29 transgender characters on television in the 2020-2021 season. That number is not nearly as high as it should be. But Schneider’s rise as a champion gives hope for representation in coming years.

Schneider will be honored at GLAAD Media Awards in April for her contribution to transgender representation. There is only one thing to do: Fight fire with fire. Continue to fight discrimination and carve out our own place in this world. Schneider did.