Amy Schneider, an engineering manager from Oakland, California, has become the first openly trans person to earn a spot in the "Jeopardy!" Tournament of Champions. Schneider, who coincidentally made her first appearance on the show on Wednesday, Nov. 17, in the middle of Trans Awareness Week, needed five wins to secure her spot in the Tournament. Tonight she will go for her eighth straight win.
"It's a strange thing to think that I have made history as the first trans person to qualify for the 'Jeopardy!' Tournament of Champions," Schneider said in an op-ed on Newsweek.com. "It was inspirational for me to see transgender contestants on the show before I became a contestant, and I hope that I am now doing that same thing for all the other trans Jeopardy! fans out there."
Schneider said in her op-ed that she plans to use some of her earnings, which total $257,800 as of Thursday's show, to travel with her girlfriend.
"We have been planning to try and travel a bit more, and my winnings so far will at least make that a lot easier," said Schneider. "I'm planning to visit a friend in Ireland, and I really liked Tokyo, so that's a place I'd like to go back to again."
While her number of wins has put her in the history books, Schneider is not the first openly trans person to appear on "Jeopardy!" Kate Freeman became the first out trans champion last year. And a handful of other trans persons have appeared on the show throughout the years.
But making it to the Tournament of Champions is definitely a first. Schneider said she hopes it will inspire other trans folk.
"I hope I have given them the opportunity to see a trans person succeed," she said. "Until very recently, trans people didn't see themselves doing much out in the world, so to actually see something like this happen really opens your mind up to possibilities…while I feel great about winning and taking home the money, it's also a win for other people. It's just a great feeling."