‘Danger!’ shines a ray of hope for the new year (Opinion)

A vital spark lives in Amy Schneider and her amazing, story-creating “Jeopardy!” race. Schneider, the first transgender person to qualify for the show’s Tournament of Champions and top-winning woman in the show’s history is also the fourth best winner ever, gender analyst. With 20 won matches under her belt, she has not yet finished making her mark on one of TV’s most popular and intellectually challenging shows.

TV is the great escape, but it is also a reflection of our common reality. Schneider represents how far transgender people have come in terms of getting a seat at the table.

In this case, Schneider has not only achieved greatness, but also surpassed the odds and earned more than three-quarters of a million dollars in game winnings and counting. It is a high grade for LGBTQ + visibility for those who identify in the acronym and allies alike, and a pat on the back for the haters. Queer and transgender people do not just exist. We thrive. We contribute to society. We are genuine and we are here and you can not legislate us back in the shadows.

There is something particularly uplifting, magical even, about Schneider’s winning race. It feels good to tune in every night and cheer on her. It is cathartic to rummage for a transmester at a time when efforts continue to try to block or roll back transgender rights in the United States.

Amy Schneider is the first trans contestant to qualify for 'Jeopardy!'  Champions Tournament

Having someone to mess with whose victories we can celebrate is something we can all relate more emphatically and empathetically to in the face of the rising Omicron variant and the uncertain immediate future it heralds.

In fact, Schneider is an inspiration not only for transgender and queer people, but also for women of all ages and allies of social justice and equality. Not to mention people who just love “Jeopardy!” and can find sympathy with Schneider, who has been careful with tribute to the winning women who came before her.

Schneider’s success feels like justification for those of us who have all too often been confronted, at work or in our personal lives, with justified or condescending men who proclaim the truth and what is best for the rest of us. No, mansplainers. Step aside. Amy Schneider knows more than you do.

As if the metaphor of Amy Schneider as a luminous beacon of hope could no longer be extended, her grace as a record winner is paramount. When former record holder Larissa Kelly tweeted to Schneider to congratulate her, Schneider replied humbly, “Thank you, I’m honored to be in your company and I look forward to one day seeing the woman who beats us both!” If it is not a lesson in the civil discourse of our members of Congress and our local elected officials going after the demographic disinformation for fear of retaliation, I do not know what it is.
Jeopardy champion: The Miracle by Alex Trebek

There are gripping parallels between Schneider’s triumph in this gender-inclusive mental sport and our efforts to find the bright spots in an otherwise dark year. As we close the door to our second full year of pandemic life and step into an even more uncertain 2022, we long to feel optimistic about what lies ahead and to begin on a higher note than circumstances seem to allow at the moment.

Omicron explodes around us, hospitals fill up again, and we still quarrel over whether scientifically proven aids like masks and vaccines are right. Let us not even dwell on climate change, the uprising or the dangers that haunt our democracy.

With all this darkness around us, it’s no wonder the internet lights up at Schneider’s winning streak. An #AmySchneider hashtag on Twitter gives me hope (like this one: “Larissa and Amy are my heroes! #Jeopardy #AmySchneider #TransWomenAreWomen.”).
In a year of the most recorded murders of transgender people, seeing such a positive trans role model not only succeeds, but succeeds in the game of knowledge and prestige on such a reputable mainstream scene, is the type of exposure that will help expand understanding and acceptance of transgender people.

What’s more, Schneider – by shedding a positive light on “Jeopardy!” after a year of controversy for the long-running show – serves as a symbol of facts and truth, and shows that smart wins. She is a manifestation of the antidote to this era of mistrust and disinformation. I take “facts matter” for $ 200.

Between the seemingly endless Covid rises, political divisions that are only expected to intensify as we round the corner into 2022 towards midterm elections, let’s gather around this moment to celebrate one that breaks records and demonstrates that we can defeat the odds, embrace knowledge as power and achieve greater heights together.

And as we prepare for what is likely to be another tough battle legally (with 2021) the most anti-trans year yet in the state houses and the haters already stirring in the pot for 2022) for transgender and LGBTQ + people as well as other marginalized societies, let’s all channel our inner Amy Schneider. Whether it’s the right to vote, access to abortion or whatever bullets can be thrown in our way, let’s meet the opposition with a polite cunning – and then immediately and quickly outwit them to take the money and run.


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