“Jeopardy!” fans are enjoying a recent wave of LGBTQ representation on the popular game show.
Just days after contestant Cody Lawrence shined a spotlight on bisexuality by wearing a bisexual pride flag pin on an episode of the series, Kate Freeman appeared on two episodes wearing a similar accessory and making “Jeopardy!” history.
Freeman, a financial specialist from Lake Orion, Michigan, wore a transgender pride flag pin as she won Friday’s show and wore it again when she was defeated on Monday’s episode. Longtime viewers believe she is the first out transgender player to ever win the game.
Writer Peter Fox tweeted a congratulatory message to Freeman on Friday, writing, “I’m assuming this victory makes her the first openly trans person to win a game.” And two-time “Jeopardy!” champ Jennifer Morrow responded to that tweet, noting there has been another trans champ, though that person came out sometime after their victory.
“There is at least one other J! champ who has publicly spoken about being trans,” she wrote. “A multi-game winner in the 1990s, although she used a different name and pronouns during her run.”
As for Freeman, she’s aware that her distinction on the show is an important one, which is why she wore the blue, pink and white pin.
“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,” she explained during an interview with Michigan news site MLive. “I’m proud to be out and I know representation is important.”
She went on to say that her appearance was “equal parts thrilling and nerve-wracking,” the latter because of how difficult it is to get the timing just right when it comes to hitting the buzzer.
And the thrilling part was that her historic win was filmed before the death of iconic "Jeopardy!" host Alex Trebek.
“It really lived up to my childhood dreams of being on the show,” she said. “I was honored to be able to meet Alex before his passing.”