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About Willy lly

Willy Wilkinson2.jpg

Willy Chang Wilkinson, MPH is an award-winning author, public health consultant, cultural competency trainer, public speaker, spoken word performer, and editor/publisher. As a response to the global mental health crisis among trans, nonbinary, and gender-expansive people, Willy penned Gender Splendor: 50 Creative Sparks to Celebrate Yourself at All Ages and Stages. He is the author of the Lambda Literary Award-winning book Born on the Edge of Race and Gender: A Voice for Cultural Competency, which illuminates trans experience from a Chinese American and mixed heritage perspective, and transforms the memoir genre into a cultural competency tool. His memoir 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. 


A trans elder who changed his name to Willy at age nine in the early '70's, he is a dynamic and engaging speaker who is recognized widely for his expertise in transgender issues. Willy has been advocating for marginalized populations since the early days of the HIV/AIDS pandemic. Since 1989, Willy has provided LGBTQ and trans-specific cultural competency training for hundreds of community health organizations, healthcare institutions, educational institutions, businesses, governmental agencies, criminal justice institutions, arts organizations, media outlets, and other entities. His work as a trainer is well received for its intersectional curriculum content, his accessible training style, and the practical applications of the knowledge and skills acquired.


As an author, Willy has conducted trans-themed writing workshops for children, teenagers, and adults. As the editor/publisher of Hapa Papa Press, Willy has published books on memoir and cultural traditions. 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. Some of his publications include a global perspective on transgender cultural competency in the inaugural edition of Transgender Studies Quarterly, and contributions to 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.”


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

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 is the recipient of an Association of LGBTQ Journalists Excellence in Journalism 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 father. He is happily partnered and the father of three. He lives on Ohlone land in Oakland, California.




Photo credit, Willy: Cody T. Williams


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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