I sat patiently waiting in Bryant Park, camera in hand, and perfect weather outside. Jacob Tobia walked up from the Subway in their tall black heels and the perfect LBD, looking effortlessly chic. Sure, Jacob is an accomplished writer, public speaker, and advocate but before that, they are the type of person that you immediately want to be best friends with. Stylish, funny, and charming; Jacob made me feel as if I had known them my whole life when I had only spent five minutes with them.
If you’re wondering why I’ve been referring to Jacob as “they” it is because Jacob is genderqueer and prefers gender neutral pronouns. You may have seen them talking about their gender identity with Laverne Cox on MTV, but let me briefly explain for those who didn’t. Being genderqueer means that you are a person who does not subscribe to our society’s imposed gender distinctions but rather identifies with neither, both, or a combination of male and female genders. Essentially, Jacob is unafraid to be authentically be themselves and has built a career inspiring people around the world to do the same.
We had a great time shooting around Bryant Park and the NY Public Library. Every idea that I had Jacob would take and make even better. If I suggested sitting on a ledge, Jacob would stand on it. They are just the type of person that takes something ordinary and makes it extraordinary.
At only 23, Jacob has already made huge strides to spread equality and make the world more inclusive for all people, especially gender non-conforming, genderqueer, and transgender people. Their work has been recognized with awards such as the Oliver Koonz Human Rights Award, and the Campus Pride National Voice and Action Award. They have been featured in various publications such as The New York Times, Huff Post Live, MSNBC, Everyday Feminism, MTV, and The Washington Post. Jacob is taking the world by storm and I can’t wait to see what beautiful and brave things they do next.