Opinions Editor, Ren Sikes, writes about the impact of the first transgender woman winner on “Jeopardy!” Photo of the “Jeopardy!” stage courtesy of Flickr.
Ren Sikes | Opinions Editor
For those of you who watch “Jeopardy!” regularly, or those who have grandparents and parents who do, you have probably heard of Amy Schneider.
Schneider, a trans woman from our very own Dayton, Ohio, has officially won 33 games in a row. She is also the first woman in “Jeopardy!” history to win $1 million dollars. This is important for several reasons.
Not only is her win a major step up for women in STEM positions and in previously male dominated fields like “Jeopardy!” Proving that women are capable of winning on the game show and succeeding in STEM based fields is paramount to the fight against gender stereotypes.
The other reason her winning streak is so important is Transgender Awareness. In today’s society, positive awareness is really hard to come by; for every minority. In the case of transgender people, it’s not necessarily negative awareness, instead it’s little-to-no awareness.
Social media has provided many opportunities for transgender people to share their stories and spread awareness of the challenges and issues that transgender people often experience, but social media can only show so much.
Schneider, who graduated from the University of Dayton and currently works as an engineering manager, has shown that transgender people can excel in every aspect of life, regardless of their gender.
Not only has she gained a massively impressive winning streak in “Jeopardy!,” she was the first transgender woman that qualified for the game show.
Her impact on transgender awareness has likely influenced many people over the span of her winning streak, but I got to see first hand how it impacted different generations.
My grandfather, who graduated from UD in 1974, and an avid “Jeopardy!” viewer made my day when he and I talked about Schneider. He had begun telling me about a news article about Schneider’s million dollar win, and how the article referred to her as “the first trans woman to win a million dollars on Jeopardy!”. While the statement is not incorrect, my grandfather thought that it needed to be changed.
“She is the first woman to win a million dollars, there have been three men before her. She wants to be called a woman, so call her a woman,” he told me one evening.
He followed it up with, “Sorry, she is a woman. So call her a woman.”
After I had stopped nearly bursting with pride at my grandfather’s statements, I realized that Schneider’s impact could reach different generations. Older generations like my grandfather’s and beyond have struggled with understanding transgender people and many people have struggled to explain it.
Shcneider may have cracked the code to bring awareness to these older generations.
Not only is she a idol for transgender youth who have always dreamt of being on “Jeopardy!” Or in STEM based fields, but she is also a beacon of awareness for older generations.
That is the most impressive accomplishment I can think of.