Current reigning Jeopardy! champ Amy Schneider has opened up about her experience coming out as transgender — and why William Shakespeare helped her come to terms with her gender identity.
Schneider has, as of writing, won 13 games in a row and amassed more than $536,000 in winnings.
In addition to becoming the first openly transgender player to qualify for Jeopardy!‘s Tournament of Champions, Schneider is also moving up the rankings of all-time Jeopardy! greats, placing in the top 10 for consecutive games won, highest winnings, and all-time winnings.
During a recent episode of Jeopardy!, Schneider discussed her love of acting, in particular the works of Shakespeare.
“I have been [acting] from childhood up through about six or seven years ago,” Schneider told host Ken Jennings.
“I got into Shakespeare as a kid. So, out of his plays, I’ve done 12 of them at one time or another, and there have been some repeats in there as well.”
On Dec. 4, Schneider took to Twitter to expand on her Shakespeare anecdote, revealing that one of the Bard’s works helped her to realize her gender identity.
“Fun fact about my Shakespeare experience: the trigger that eventually resulted in my coming out was playing Flute in [A] Midsummer [Night’s Dream],” Schneider tweeted.
“There’s a play-within-a-play at the end, and Flute is forced to play a woman, and dressing up as a woman every night felt shockingly right to me.”
Schneider previously spoke about the importance of seeing other out transgender people competing on Jeopardy! in an op-ed for Newsweek.
“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 wrote.
“I hope I have given them the opportunity to see a trans person succeed. 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.”
During Jeopardy!‘s Thanksgiving episode, Schneider wore a transgender Pride flag pin, saying she “didn’t want to make too much about being trans, at least in the context of the show. I am a trans woman, and I’m proud of that fact, but I’m a lot of other things, too!”
“The fact is, I don’t actually think about being trans all that often, and so when appearing on national television, I wanted to represent that part of my identity accurately: as important, but also relatively minor,” she said.
“But I also didn’t want it to seem as if it was some kind of shameful secret. While it’s gratifying to know that people didn’t necessarily know I was trans until they read about it, I do want people to know that aspect of me. I think being trans is really cool!”
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