Organizer and activist for LGBTQ+ rights. Actor, producer, and bestselling author. Committed to justice for gender-nonconforming, genderqueer, and transgender people.
Featured lessonCelebrating and Defending Trans and Non-Binary Lives
Jacob Tobia (they/them) was born in 1991 and raised by a Methodist family in Raleigh, North Carolina. In high school, Tobia was president of the Gay-Straight Alliance and participated in student government. They applied and were accepted to Harvard but chose to attend Duke University, where they graduated summa cum laude with a degree in human rights advocacy, specializing in the history of the LGBTQ+ movement in South Africa. During college, Tobia also served as the vice president of equity and outreach for Duke Student Government and president of Duke Students for Gender Neutrality. They successfully lobbied for full inclusion of gender- neutral housing and restrooms, pushed for comprehensive health care coverage for transgender students, mobilized the community against anti-LGBTQ+ ballot initiatives in North Carolina, and worked for socially responsible investing of Duke’s vast endowment.
In 2012, Tobia began blogging for The Huffington Post. Since then, their projects, writing, and advocacy have been featured by MSNBC, MTV, The Washington Post, The New York Times, Time, New York, Teen Vogue, Playboy, The Guardian, and Jezebel, among others. They have also received many accolades for their organizing work, including the Benjamin N. Duke Scholarship, the Harry S. Truman Scholarship, the Oliver Koonz Human Rights Prize, and the Campus Pride National Voice and Action Award. In addition, Tobia is a Point Foundation Scholar. The foundation empowers promising lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer students to achieve their full academic and leadership potential.
Tobia is the author of the national bestselling memoir “Sissy: A Coming-of-Gender Story,” a heart-wrenching, eye-opening memoir about what it’s like to grow up not sure if you’re (a) a boy, (b) a girl, (c) something in between, or (d) all of the above. A member of the Forbes 30 Under 30 and the OUT 100, Tobia created, produced, and hosted “Queer 2.0” (a first-of-its-kind LGBTQ+ series for NBC News), served as the social media producer on season 4 of Amazon’s Emmy Award-winning series “Transparent,” and collaborated with Instagram to produce #KindComments, a custom campaign for Trans Day of Visibility that was viewed over 14 million times.
Tobia is dedicated to helping others embrace the full complexity of their gender and to the message of personal fabulosity and social change. They have worn high heels in the White House twice and are likely to do so again.
“The idea that gender is consistent is a flawed premise to begin with. By resisting conventional labels and embracing authentic ambiguity, I want to challenge the tenet that gender must be consistent and immediately legible to others.”
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