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About Willy lly

Willy Wilkinson2.jpg

Willy Wilkinson, MPH is an award-winning transgender writer and public health consultant who has been advocating for marginalized populations since the early days of the HIV/AIDS pandemic. A dynamic and engaging speaker who is recognized widely for his expertise in transgender issues, he has provided training and consultation services for hundreds of community health organizations, educational institutions, businesses, and other entities on how to provide affirming services or LGBTQ populations. Willy’s book Born on the Edge of Race and Gender: A Voice for Cultural Competency (winner of the 2016 Lambda Literary Award in transgender non-fiction) blends his intersectional experiences of race, gender, sexuality, disability, class, and parenthood with lessons from the fields of cultural competency, public health, and policy advocacy.


Willy was the first Asian and first transgender community health outreach worker providing street-based HIV education and crisis intervention for sex workers and drug users in San Francisco. He worked on the first large-scale research project on the transgender community, developed the first HIV prevention program for trans men who have sex with other men, and organized the first peer support programs for Asian transmasculine individuals and transmasculine people of color. Willy launched the Health Care Access Project at Transgender Law Center, the first program in the nation to address trans health disparities through provider training, “know your rights” workshops for community members, and advocacy for trans-competent care.


Willy was the lead consultant at the California statewide Community Alliance for Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services, where he conducted a high volume of LGBTQ and trans-specific cultural competency training and technical assistance. He provided LGBTQ training nationwide for navigators conducting enrollment for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, a project of Out2Enroll and Center for American Progress, in partnership with the White House and the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services.


Willy has documented the API queer women’s and trans movements in the San Francisco Chronicle, Asian Week, San Francisco Bay Times, the Advocate, Huffington Post, and other periodicals, and has published a number of LGBTQ and transgender best practices articles. Recent publications include a global perspective on transgender cultural competency in the inaugural edition of Transgender Studies Quarterly, and contributions in Trans Bodies, Trans Selves and Manning Up: Transsexual Men on Finding Brotherhood, Family, and Themselves. His essay on social and policy change as an outcome of participatory action research in marginalized communities can be found in the Lambda Literary Award finalist Transgender Rights. Willy's San Francisco Chronicle article on the sociopolitical intersections between his parents' interracial marriage and his same sex marriage was widely acclaimed.


Willy has performed spoken word at numerous venues from UC Berkeley to Vassar College, in the film "Against a Trans Narrative," and at the Mixed Remixed Festival in Los Angeles. The Lambda Literary Review has described his writing as “highly evocative.”


Willy is the recipient of a National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association Excellence in Writing award, and the Transgender Law Center Vanguard Award, and is recognized on the Trans 100, a national list of notable trans people. He is the first transgender person to receive the Asian and Pacific Islander Queer Women and Transgender Community (APIQWTC) Phoenix Award.


Willy has served as founding board member for both Transgender Law Center and Asian and Pacific Islander Wellness Center (now San Francisco Community Health Center), and has participated in numerous advisory boards and committees. He earned a Masters in Public Health in Community Health Education from UC Berkeley, and a BA in Women’s Studies from UC Santa Cruz. Willy coordinates care for his nonagenarian parents. He lives in Oakland, California with his creative, adventurous partner and three clever kids in elementary, middle, and high school.




Photo credit, Willy: Cody T. Williams


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View Willy's powerful acceptance speech for the 2014 Claire Skiffington Vanguard Award. 

Kris Hayashi

From drawing desperately needed attention and funds to transgender communities suffering from the AIDS epidemic to founding the first support group for FTM people of color to changing hearts and minds through your trainings—you have been an essential voice and leader on behalf of our community. I hope you’ll allow us to honor you for how you’ve used that voice.

- Kris Hayashi, Executive Director, Transgender Law Center

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