LGBTQ+ rights activist, actor, and writer
Photo Credit: Blake Jacobsen
About Jacob Tobia
Growing up in North Carolina, Jacob Tobia knew they were different. They loved going into the woods, playing with bugs, having sword fights, and all the other “masculine” activities. But as a creative, glittered-obsessed child, they also loved playing with Barbies, dressing up in a tutu, and dancing around the house—activities often associated with being “feminine.” Tobia wanted it all—they have too much gender and refuse to be placed in either of the socially constructed binary genders. Now as an adult, in their entertaining and hilarious but oftentimes emotional and relatable talks, Tobia speaks about rethinking society’s harmful gender norms and urges us to embrace gender in a more expansive and complicated way.
As an actor, writer, and producer, Jacob Tobia created, produced, and hosted Queer 2.0, an original LGBTQ+ NBC News series that takes a deeper dive into explaining what it means to be queer. They have appeared on MTV’s long-running show True Life: I’m Genderqueer, voiced the nonbinary character Double Trouble in the Netflix animated series She-Ra and the Princesses of Power, and served as the Social Media Producer for Amazon’s Emmy Award-winning series, Transparent, a coming-out, and identity transformation story. Tobia also produced and starred in a historic, all-trans reading of the Pulitzer and Tony Award-winning play I Am My Own Wife.
Jacob Tobia documents their heart-wrenching, eye-opening, and giggle-inducing journey in their bestselling memoir, Sissy: A Coming-of-Gender Story. Reclaiming the word “sissy,” a term that they were teased with growing up, Tobia provides a funny but powerful account of overcoming the shame that was placed on them by the world for just being who they were and learning how to own their gender. Their compelling reflection on gender and self-acceptance will be adapted into a half-hour series by Showtime, with Tobia serving as the co-writer and co-executive producer.
Jacob Tobia graduated from Duke University, where they served as the vice president of equity and outreach for Duke Student Government, co-president of Blue Devils United, 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. After college, Tobia has worked with the Human Rights Campaign and the United Nations Foundation before their television career.
Unpacking Professionalism, Finding Joy: An Exploration of Gender Freedom in the Workplace
Through steering the conversation away from avoiding gender discrimination and toward creating gender freedom, Jacob Tobia upends the traditional narrative about workplace equality and leaves audience members with gut-level confidence that they have what it takes. Funny, entertaining and most importantly, engaging, Tobia redirects the conversation away from what we’re afraid of or anxious about to focus on what we’re excited for, what we love, and what we hope to accomplish in building a trans-inclusive workplace.
Reclaiming What They Stole: Reflections on Gender and Self
Who were you before you learned what it meant to “be a girl” or “act like a boy”? How did you navigate life before you were told who to be? What parts of yourself did you have to get rid of, kill off, or extinguish in the name of “fitting in” with gender? The reality is that, on some level or another, we are all gender nonconforming. In this wide-ranging talk, Jacob Tobia invites audience members across the gender spectrum to reflect on how gender policing and gender-based trauma shows up in their lives, then poses the ultimate question: given that a binary system of gender hurts us all, shouldn’t we just get rid of it? How can we embrace all parts of who we are, regardless of gender stereotypes and what others tell us? What would it mean to live in a world where our understanding of gender is every bit as expansive and shimmering as we are?
Praise for Jacob Tobia
Jacob did a phenomenal job connecting with attendees ranging from curious high school students to seasoned community activists. They engagingly highlighted the lessons Sissy offers for this pivotal historical moment. Following the event, attendees gushed that they were walking away reenergized in their commitments to equity and justice. Though our campus hosts many internationally-known leaders, some students shared that Jacob’s talk was the best they have attended at Stanford!— Stanford University
Jacob does an amazing job not only educating, but inspiring. They make the journey fun, exciting, and inclusive while boldly educating your workforce. After two years my senior leaders are still talking about it today.— Hannah Danger, Comcast NBCUniversal, DEI & LGBTQ ERG Lead
Jacob’s presentation was sensational! Thoughtful and sincere, Jacob was able to share their story with our staff in a way that was both unique and relatable. Hearing perspectives like theirs are what push us to make better content.— Fé Ley, Dreamworks
Jacob Tobia was an amazing speaker we had during our 2022 Pride Month events. We had them come for a Book Talk and Reading. From the meeting beforehand to the day of the event Jacob’s communication specifically was amazing! Our staff had such great feedback on the event (specifically how light and easy the format was) and wanted more similar events. It was the most attended event thus far for our ERG! We highly recommend them and look forward to having them back in the future.— Keith Sherman, FreshPride ERG Chair, HelloFresh US
Praise for Sissy
[Tobia] combines incisive wit and undeniable intelligence to invite readers into their personal journey as a gender-nonconforming young person in North Carolina. . . It is in Tobia’s often self-deprecating humor that Sissy is most transformative, and where it most departs from other trans memoirs. The seriousness of the topic never feels glossed over, which allows for an organic and seamless journey from tears on one page to laughing aloud on the next. If Tobia aspires to the ranks of comic memoirists like David Sedaris and Mindy Kaling, Sissy succeeds.— New York Times Book Review
When the political reality facing this country seems dark, we need shinier, sparklier thinkers in the public eye. With a signature style matched only by their wit, Jacob fits that bill perfectly.— Alan Cumming
Jacob Tobia is a force. . . . Their voice is unique and inspirational.— Good Morning America
Tobia sashays away from all the expectations and trappings of what it means to be a man or woman, and calls for us to embrace the fluidity of identity.— O, The Oprah Magazine
In Sissy, Tobia adds a necessary voice to our national conversation about gender and acceptance.— TIME
Books by Jacob Tobia
Media About Jacob Tobia
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