The 2018 JQ Awards Garden Brunch is on Sunday, April 15 and this year’s event will be our biggest and best one yet. Our 2018 honorees represent the best of our LGBTQ+ and ally community, and we are proud to celebrate their achievements. This week we are thrilled to introduce you to our second honoree, Jacob Hofheimer, recipient of the 2018 Trailblazer Award.
We are honored to recognize Jacob (Jake) Hofheimer — JQ’s first-ever teen and transgender honoree — with this year’s Trailblazer Award. Jake embodies the spirit of those who have inspired, forged new paths, and created the highest visibility for LGBTQ+ Jews.
Jake inspires us all with his passion for social justice and transgender rights. As a high school junior at New Roads School in Santa Monica, Jake was the first transgender man to compete in varsity high school baseball. His story was published in the Los Angeles Times and in a photo essay in ESPN The Magazine.
“A trailblazer is someone who’s a leader and is creating a sense of inclusion for people where those people may not be already included,” he said. “For me, that was done through showing people that baseball isn’t a cisgender man’s sport. Anyone can play.”
Jake, now 19 years old and a freshman at CU Boulder, has become a role model and understands the significance of representation to transgender youth. Since his story became national news in 2016, young trans kids contact him on Instagram and Snapchat for advice.
Jake’s mother Lisa Hofheimer introduced Jake to JQ after she heard JQ Executive Director and Co-Founder Asher Gellis speak in 2015.
“Asher’s vision and passion about offering a place for LGBTQ Jews resonated with me deeply,” Lisa recalled. “Jake had come out recently as trans, and I was comforted to learn that Jake would have Jewish opportunities to connect with the LGBTQ community.”
In his senior year of high school, Jake began attending JQ’s Teen JQSA (Jewish Queer Straight Alliance) program. “The JQSA gave me a sense of community, where I could be queer and be myself and not have to worry about people judging me for being queer,” he said.
Jake especially valued the opportunity to participate as a panelist for JQ’s Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR) commemoration in November 2016.
“It’s not often that there are panels of trans people talking about trans issues and facing the Jewish community,” he said. “JQ is wonderful for giving people that platform.” Later that same year, Jake was the youth speaker at the West Hollywood TDOR ceremony.
At CU Boulder, Jake is continuing on his path of being a changemaker, studying Women and Gender Studies and working on the Gender and Sexuality Center’s Peer Education Team. He also serves as a volunteer for the Jared Polis for Colorado Governor Campaign. As a transgender advocate, Jake plans to continue the fight for equal rights — hopefully at a national level — in the future.
Even while he’s at school in Colorado, Jake knows that JQ is always there for him. “If I’m ever missing home, I always have someone to talk to and remind me of my community.”
JQ’s work continues to inspire Jake; he calls the helpline “pretty incredible,” and points to the Teen JQSA as a special inclusive space bringing together queer Jewish teens from across Los Angeles County.
“JQ is an organization that I’m really happy to be a part of,” Jake said. “I’m proud of the work that they do, and I want to see them continue to do the amazing work that they’re doing.”
“Jake is one of the bravest and determined people I know,” Lisa said. “JQ has helped him build the self-confidence he needs to be his authentic self.”
We are proud of Jake and honored to be part of his journey. It is outstanding young men like Jake and supportive parents like Lisa who inspire us every day and make our work possible.
JQ Contributing Writer
Please join us on Sunday, April 15 as we show our appreciation to Jake and our honorees at this year’s JQ Awards Garden Brunch. Get your Early Bird tickets now at a special price through March 16. Full details HERE!