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.
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.
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.
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.
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.