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Opinion Amy Schneider wins $1 million on ‘Jeopardy!’ — and respect for trans Americans

"Jeopardy!" champion Amy Schneider has won more than $1 million on the game show. Schneider is the first trans person to qualify for the show's Tournament of Champions and has won the most regular season games of any woman. (Jeopardy Productions, Inc. via AP) (AP)

Amy Schneider has won more than $1 million on “Jeopardy!” in an incredible 28-game victory streak. It’s yet another milestone for “Jeopardy Amy,” who is undeniably one of the best players in the show’s history and has become one of the most famous trans women in America.

She now holds the record for most consecutive games won by a female player (surpassing Julia Collins’s 20-game win streak in 2014) and the most money ever won by a female contestant (surpassing Larissa Kelly’s $655,930 in prize money). She currently ranks fourth overall in “Jeopardy!” history for consecutive games won and highest winnings in regular-season play.

It’s unfortunate that some people have fixated on Ms. Schneider’s appearance rather than her amazing achievements. There should not be any controversy about Ms. Schneider being called the most winning woman ever on “Jeopardy!" She identifies as a woman and has been referred to with female pronouns for her entire run on the show.

The “Jeopardy!” community has embraced Ms. Schneider. Ms. Kelly was quick to congratulate Ms. Schneider for surpassing her own record and “becoming the woman with the highest overall earnings in the show’s history.” Other top female players have also weighed in with praise and celebration that a woman has made it this far. The most winning player of all time — Ken Jennings — is currently hosting the show, and he and Ms. Schneider have bantered to the delight of the audience.

For her own part, Ms. Schneider is humble about her winnings. She talks frequently about her cat and her childhood in Dayton, Ohio. When she won her 20th game, she wore a mauve sweater in honor of Ms. Collins, who was famous for a stylish sweater collection. And when Ms. Schneider doesn’t know an answer — which is rare — she shakes her head or gets a puzzled look, a feeling many viewers can relate to.

Many of the show’s fans are rooting for her. Ratings are up. People on social media report that older relatives have become more open-minded about trans people after watching Ms. Schneider’s historic wins. It helps that “Jeopardy!” is a contest where men and women have always competed side by side. Gender doesn’t matter.

Still, there has been some backlash, especially on social media, where it’s easy to hide behind anonymity when criticizing someone else. In a New Year’s Eve tweet, Ms. Schneider responded to her critics with a simple yet powerful retort:

“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," Ms. Schneider wrote.

It’s time for America to move beyond prejudices about trans people. Ms. Schneider didn’t ask to become a trans icon. She wants to be judged for her talents, just like everyone else.

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