Movement Maker Profiles: Daroneshia Duncan-Boyd
Mrs. Daroneshia Duncan-Boyd is an unapologetically Black, trans woman and Southerner and the Executive Director of TAKE Resource Center, a trans, people of color-led organization. Transgender Advocates Knowledgeable Empowering (TAKE) serves as an advocacy, support, direct service, and resource center for trans and non-binary communities in Birmingham, Alabama.
Who are your people?
My people are my family, my people are trans folks, my people are my support system, my people are sex workers, my people are people dealing with severe mental illness, people struggling with substance abuse. I just feel connected to so many people.
What brings you to your work?
It’s simple, being born in this world, I’m Black and knowing that that’s the first challenge that I face, and then to navigate through my womanhood as being trans-identified is the second thing that creates barriers for me. The movement work is simple, because if we don’t have voices and people that’s ready to step in unapologetically, and challenge systems to help dismantle what’s in place for us not to exist, and not to receive the resources that we need, then there’s no sense of being in a world where you don’t have a voice or you’re underserved.
That keeps me fighting for the work that I believe in, and also trying to challenge systems where if only you were HIV positive, that you can have a plentiful life or you can receive all the resources and wraparound services that you need. Finding out me not being HIV positive, but going places looking for resources, I couldn’t get help just because I was a Black trans woman. That was not good enough. People didn’t understand that that is a crisis, that’s a struggle in this world that we call America.
Being able to challenge that, open up TAKE Resource Center really have helped us evolve here in Birmingham, Alabama, being able to offer resources that wasn’t previously offered to folks that wasn’t HIV positive and being able to offer wrap around services period, no matter what’s your health status, no matter where you’re at in life, no matter what you got going on, that we’re able to offer services to everybody across the board. The trans masculine community is becoming more visible, and dealing with challenges. We just have to step in and support their services as well, through the Black Knight Programming founded by my husband, Logan.
What aspect of your movement work brings you the most joy?
It’s so hard because I served as the national ED with Trans United before, and also working here at TAKE Resource Center, which is direct service, and direct service gets you burned out really quick, but it brings me hope. It brings me joy. It shows me that my work is not done in vain. It’s people out here that really needs me, needs my voice, needs my services, and also need my expertise around what does it mean to build an organization from the bottom up, being a grassroots leader.
Me, I have to say my leadership development component of this work because leadership development is very imperative because somebody have to replace me, somebody have to replace me and somebody else needs to know how to do this work intentionally and also needs to know how to do this work very impactful in a way to just change other folks lives and bring other Black and brown trans folks along the way because this work will not just stop with me and TAKE resource center.
It’ll continue to expand until a point that we are all winning and whatever that looks like. I don’t know if the success that I’m looking for in the whole world I will be able to see it before I leave this earth. I will want to know that once I leave my legacy: the strategy that I had, the leaders that I worked with, I had my hand in it and I know that I have left this world and people are able to benefit from the work of TAKE, our Monica Roberts Freedom School, building power cohort and all that stuff because Monica was an impactful person on my life. I want to be able to continue to share that and the legacy will keep living on.
What moves are you making to end violence?
Oh my God, so many moves because you have to think about the services on the front end and I think a lot of funders get confused when we’re talking about these statistics, these statistics shouldn’t only be statistics of violence and crime and hate. These statistics should talk about intervention programs that are being created to prevent crimes from happening, to prevent murders from happening.
What happens is we continue to build this coalition to showcase the work of TAKE to showcase the existence and the importance of why Black trans folks, brown trans folks, trans folks as a whole deserve to exist here on earth without experiencing hate crimes. We need the resources and we need the organizations to talk about that to help the people that don’t understand us, understand our existence so being able to create the intervention to block those things from happening is the way that aiming to end violence against us.
Being able to have a safe space, being able to have access to food, being able to have access to employment, job readiness training programs, sex workers, safe sex kits and all these things. It can say that we’re not against sex work, sex work is not something that’s permanent. How do we continue to pass the message along to let our community members know it’s something better than sex work?
I’m a prime example, I’m a former sex worker so this is what it looks like to take those skills and those tools that you use as a hustler to survive to get you to the next level so there is hope.
How would you describe your leadership strengths?
It’s crazy that you ask how would I describe my leadership strengths because some people receive me well and others don’t. I look at things as a sense of intimidation and intimidation is something that should activate you to find inspiration, to find hope and so the way that I show up as a leader is simple. I show up as a leader as the possibility model, I show up as a leader because I understand the things that I have been through to get to where I’m at.
I show up as a leader authentically, I show up as a leader unapologetically to let you know that you don’t have to have this level of academia that the white men have always tried to force on us, but we can be able to do it through lived experience as long as you are willing to continue to grow and willing to continue to learn. With that being said that I would never get in a place where I’m complacent that I feel that I’m not teachable.
Always remain teachable, always remain humble and that’s what will get you to the level of leadership that you need to achieve in your life, and you’re able to reach back and pull other leaders along and being powerful and impactful in others lives that don’t really understand you.
What keeps you in this work?
I think what keeps me in this work is the joy that I find seeing the work, just seeing that, Oh my God, this lady or this male have got a legal name change. This lady or this male would not be on the streets tonight sleeping out in the cold, this lady or this male would not have access to food, that they got the things that they need to help meet their basic daily needs. Oh, God, it’s just so many things that I could say that brings me joy within this work. It’s just simple, being able to just change lives.
I’m not saying that you got to change many lives, but if you just touch only one person, you have made a meaningful impact between everybody, and that one person will be able to go out and shape the story and talk about your work. That’s where you will be able to reach other people because of that one person, you changed their lives, you empowered them, you encouraged them, you showed them that there was a way to be successful meaning others will come along to look for that same greatness.