(This post is part of a series highlighting the finalists for Dallas LGBT+ Bar Association’s 2020 Justice Award. The award recipient will be announced in late January 2021.)
Robyn Pocohantas Crowe (she/her), popularly known as Pocohantas Duvall, is a founder of The House of Rebirth “THOR” which is a local “transformative housing initiative and community safe space led by Black Trans Women to develop sustainable resources and enhance and protect the lives of Black Trans-Identified Women.” As an action-oriented person, she was moved by the murder of Muhlaysia Booker and the loss and pain of many Black Trans women in the DFW community. Channeling her pain she decided to “provide life giving resources to under-served Black Trans-identified women.” In the same way that she loves and pours into the young Black Trans girls and women, she is loved and protected by her own community-based family. She is part of the pageant house, House of Duvall, with Sally who is her gay mother. She is also part of the House of Armani, and her gay father is Nunu Armani. She is also loved and protected by her drag mother Fantasia Suggs.
Below are Crowe’s responses to an interview conducted by association leaders.
What actions you have taken in the community through your work?
Pocahontas has served as a house mother to the youth that seek shelter and help from The House of Rebirth. As a “house mother,” Pocahontas looks after and guides youth through the many obstacles they face as part of being Trans and women of color, particularly being Black and Trans. Through her role, Pocahontas lives her life as an example of how Trans women of color can find happiness and live a fulfilling life. What makes Pocahontas’ work through The House of Rebirth especially unique is that her guidance does not come from books alone. Rather, Pocahontas speaks from a life of personal experience. Pocahontas is able to connect to Trans youth with an understanding that sex work is more than just a means of financial necessity—it is also manner through which people can try to find validation. It is because of her personal experiences with difficult topics like this that Pocahontas can empathize with the youth she helps on a profound level.
What inspires your work?
Pocahontas’ work is inspired by the fact that she belongs to a community that is systematically
discriminated against. Seeing the societal barriers and disparities Trans Black women face as a
community drives Pocahontas to further her mission every day.
Who inspires you?
Pocahontas is inspired by her mother, Yolanda Faye Howard, whom Pocahontas’ lost in 2014. According to Pocahontas, Yolanda did not judge anyone when they came to her. Instead, Yolanda showed love to all—no matter the way they looked or what they did. Anytime Pocahontas would do something wrong and felt like she wasn’t capable of rectifying the problem, her mother would tell her that Pocahontas was precisely the person that should handle the situation because she stood to grow the most from it. Pocahontas’ mother, as well as the rest of her family, serve as a vital support system for Pocahontas.
Pocahontas is also inspired by the death of her grand-baby Muhlaysia Booker, and the loss and pain of so many Black Trans women in the DFW community. When she was alive, Muhlaysia would often spend time with Pocahontas. When Pocahontas lost Muhlaysia—among many other Trans women of color—it affected her profoundly. From that moment, Pocahontas decided that she could not lose another friend and dedicated her life to creating a safe space for Trans women of color to build community and learn how to protect themselves from the discrimination they face.
Together, Pocahontas’ family and Muylaysia’s death inspired Pocahontas to ensure that she leaves a legacy in this world, which is exactly what she intends to do through The House of Rebirth.