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Amy Schneider & Zaya Wade Discuss What It's Like to Be Trans in the Spotlight

Amy Schneider & Zaya Wade Discuss What It's Like to Be Trans in the Spotlight

Amy Schneider and Zaya Wade
Teen Vogue/Instagram

And how allies can help create more inclusive communities.

During a time when discriminatory anti-LGBTQ+ laws are on the rise, trans activist Zaya Wade and Jeopardy! Champion Amy Schneider refused to stay quiet. In an interview with Teen Vogue, they -- alongside It Gets Better Project youth ambassador Zach Koung -- discussed what it's like to be trans in the public eye.

Schnieder said she "felt a certain responsibility to be my best self and represent the trans community well," during her time on Jeopardy!.

"But I was also worried about that in the sense that I don't want to present a 'too perfect' image of myself because I want everyone to be able to see that whether or not you are good at trivia, whether or not you have a lot of followers on social media, any of those things, you still deserve and can find the same acceptance, the same affirmation and freedom to express who you are," she explained.

Schnieder was pleasantly surprised by the response she got from the audience. "It felt amazing," she recalled. "I was expecting a lot worse, a lot more negativity... but far, far more support and affirmation. That really taught me that we have come a lot farther than I had even thought."

Wade discussed the experience of acceptance much closer to home. She is the daughter of NBA star Dwayne Wade and actor Gabrielle Union, both of whom are outspoken trans allies. "I like to think of my family as my big support group, my community," she said. "I think they show up for me every day, whether it's being there for me when I feel down or when there is a lot of LGBTQ+ hate out in the world."

While Wade said her family has been very supportive, they still didn't always understand what she was going through.

"I honestly wish that a lot of adults understood and did not invalidate how confusing, uncomfortable and kind of abrupt, but also how beautiful being a part of any LGBTQ+ community is," she said. "I do think there is 'Oh you're just going through this' or 'Oh it's fine' - there is a lot of invalidation of what you're going through, even if they do accept you as trans."

Ultimately though, Wade has come to understand the pressure and privilege of publicly representing her community. "The expectation for anyone who has to represent the LGBTQ+ community is a lot and there is a lot of pressure there," she explained. "Having someone or a group of people really helps me see the positives, while also recognizing the negatives, and rise above them because I am me and no one is going to tell me otherwise anymore."

Watch the full interview on Teen Vogue's Instagram.

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