Transcendence 2018: Meet the Honorees

Each year, as the seasons change from summer to fall, we prepare for Transcendence – our annual celebration for trans and non-binary community members and friends in support of our pioneering Transgender Health Program.

This year we’re thrilled to honor two boundary-breaking leaders: Deja Smith and Jacob Tobia, two artists who are changing the world by elevating conversations around gender, sexuality and humanity through their art.

Deja Smith is a classically trained dancer and celebrity makeup artist who uses her skills and talent to empower others by inspiring confidence in their gender expression. Deja’s client roster includes Laverne Cox, Kehinde Wiley, and the cast of POSE on FX.

Deja Smith

Jacob Tobia is an award winning writer, producer and author who helps others embrace the full complexity of gender through their own storytelling and advocacy. Jacob is a member of both Forbes ’30 Under 30′ and the ‘OUT 100,’ whose forthcoming memoir ‘Sissy: A Coming-of-Gender Story,’ is set for release in Spring 2019.

Jacob Tobia

Read more about these two incredible individuals below, and meet them on September 27th at Transcendence 2018! Sponsorhips start at just $150 and come with an array of benefits – general tickets go on sale Wednesday, September 12th! Visit to purchase.

Deja Smith is an artist from Harlem, NY. She began her career as a dancer on Long Island, NY where she trained at Venettes Cultural Workshop and Long Island High School for the Arts. While in high school, she was a regional NAACP ACT-SO award recipient. She continued her studies at the famed Alvin Ailey School, Joffrey Ballet School and Dance Theater of Harlem as a scholarship recipient. She later attended Southern Methodist University where she obtained a BFA in dance performance. At SMU, she performed in the choreographic works of Jose Limon, Larry White, August Bournonville and Sabrina Madison-Cannon. Additional credits include, Columbia City Ballet and Norwegian Cruise Lines. After a short performance career, Deja made a milestone decision to make her gender transition and a career change. Deja now works professionally as an A-list celebrity makeup artist. Her work can be seen in editorials, on red carpets, and in film and television productions. Her client roster includes Laverne Cox, Kehinde Wiley and most recently, the cast of POSE on the FX network. She is also the proud co-owner of the concierge hair and makeup team, DDPRO, which specializes in providing glam for LGBTQ+ focused projects and community members.

Jacob Tobia is a writer, producer, and author of the forthcoming memoir Sissy: A Coming-of-Gender Story with Putnam Books at Penguin Random House. As a performer, visionary, and internet personality, Jacob helps others embrace the full complexity of gender and own their truth, even when that truth is messy as hell. Currently living in Los Angeles, Jacob was recently named to the Biden Foundation’s Advisory Council for Advancing LGBTQ Equality. In spring of 2018, Jacob produced and starred in a critically acclaimed revival reading of the Pulitzer and Tony Award-winning play I Am My Own Wife by Doug Wright, and was announced as the new face of Fluide Beauty, a line of trans and queer-inclusive makeup.

A member of both the Forbes 30 Under 30 and the OUT 100, Jacob made their debut on the national stage when they were interviewed by Laverne Cox as part of MTV’s The T Word. In 2015, Jacob was profiled by MTV in the one hour, GLAAD Award-nominated episode of True Life: I’m Genderqueer, and in 2016, Jacob created, coproduced, and hosted Queer 2.0, a first-of-its-kind LGBTQ series on NBC News. In 2017, they served as the Social Media Producer on Season 4 of Amazon’s Emmy Award-winning series, Transparent and collaborated with Instagram and GLAAD to produce #KindComments, a custom campaign for Trans Day of Visibility that was viewed over 14 million times.

Point Foundation ScholarHarry S. Truman Scholar, and recipient of the Campus Pride National Voice and Action Award, Jacob has captivated audiences at Harvard, Princeton, Columbia, South by Southwest, and conferences across the country with their message of personal fabulosity and social change.  Their writing and advocacy have been featured on MSNBC, MTV, The Washington Post, The New York Times, TIME, New York Magazine, Teen Vogue, Playboy, The Guardian, and Jezebel, among others.

Originally from Raleigh, North Carolina, Jacob graduated Summa Cum Laude from Duke University with a degree in Human Rights Advocacy. Prior to their career in television, Jacob worked at the United Nations Foundation, the Human Rights Campaign, and the Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice. Jacob is an avid Sriracha devotee and has worn high heels in the White House twice (take that Donald!)