From Lake Orion, Michigan, Kate Freeman became the first openly trans woman to win the game show last week.
Kate Freeman became the first transgender woman to win Jeopardy! last Friday. Freeman, who is from Lake Orion, Michigan, wore a pin of the trans pride flag to quietly represent her community. Though she lost the title of Jeopardy! champion on Monday night this week, she went home with $5,559 in cash winnings, LGTBQ Nation reports. She now joins one of the very few people from the LGBTQ+ community to have been featured on the game show. The others include former contestants John Presloid from 2019 and Louis Virtel from 2015 (who never actually said he was gay on national television).
Freeman stated after the show aired, "It was really cool to get the behind-the-scenes view of how TV gets made and it was impressive to see how the crew adapted their practices and protocols to keep everyone safe and socially-distant while producing the show." She described competing on the game show as both exciting and "nerve-wracking." "Getting that buzzer timing right is so much harder than it seems when watching at home," she explained. "It really lived up to my childhood dreams of being on the show. I was honored to be able to meet Alex before his passing." Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek passed away early last month after a long fight with pancreatic cancer.
The trans contestant believes representation is incredibly pertinent. "I spent a lot of time learning about and reflecting on my gender identity in grad school, coming out as transgender and lesbian a few months before graduating," Freeman said. "I’m proud to be out and I know representation is important." Like her, former contestant Cody Lawrence wore a bi flag pin on his lapel earlier in the week as well. In addition to these two contestants, Presloid was the first contestant to be "out" during his episode of the game show. He casually mentioned his husband after declining to bet big on a Daily Double. He joked, "My husband would kill me."
Jeopardy contestant Kate Freeman has rewritten Jeopardy history: she is one of the first openly trans people to win the game. pic.twitter.com/mDRklj2908— Affinity Magazine (@TheAffinityMag) December 17, 2020
As he had been out for years at the time, the statement was not particularly remarkable to him or those close to him. However, it resonated with many viewers across the United States. Presloid stated, "The reaction was so much bigger than I thought it would be." He added, nonetheless, that he was not the first contestant from the LGBTQ+ community and acknowledged Virtel from 2015. One of his biggest regrets was not stating his sexual identity explicitly on the show. "If you watch the show, I’m slamming around on the buzzer with a wrist flicked up to heaven," he shared. "I snapped my fingers at the camera during my introduction; I snapped again with full In Living Color gusto after I responded correctly on a Daily Double. Before the closing credits, I posed like Linda Evangelista with a ladylike arm in the air."
He continued, "It all felt fantastic and organic, a reflection of my obsession with the show. But I hate, hate, hate that I didn’t just say ‘I’m gay’ on air. I’ve noticed that gay people can immediately recognize me as gay, but a lot of time straight people are surprised. So I kind of liked the idea of just dropping it casually, like a straight person would mention his wife. I didn’t want to make it a ‘reveal’ or some shocking secret, but just a matter of fact thing. ‘Oh yeah, by the way, I’m gay too. Let’s keep playing this game.'" Despite Trebek's death, the episodes that have already been recorded are being aired as a tribute to the longtime host.