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Photo by Camerawerkz

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A Snapshot

Willy Chang Wilkinson, MPH is an award-winning author, speaker, public health consultant, and cultural competency trainer. For the past 35 years, he has inspired thousands of people across multiple fields and industries to create affirming services and systems, build healthy teams, and be more effective in their work.

Willy has provided LGBTQ and trans-specific cultural competency training with an intersectional lens for health, business, education, government, criminal justice, arts, and other fields and industries. His work as a cultural competency and diversity, equity, and inclusion trainer is well received for its intersectional curriculum content, his accessible training style, and the practical applications of the knowledge and skills acquired. A dynamic and engaging speaker, Willy speaks on varied subjects, including cultural competency, healthcare access, gender-affirming care, affirming systems, intersectionality, community organizing, allyship, equity, wellness, and belonging. Willy is the recipient of an Association of LGBTQ+ Journalists Excellence in Journalism Award, a Lambda Literary Award, and the Transgender Law Center Vanguard Award. Learn more at www.willywilkinson.com.

The full story

Willy Chang Wilkinson, MPH is an Asian American transgender award-winning author, public health consultant, cultural competency trainer, public speaker, spoken word performer, and editor/publisher. 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. 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. 

 

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 organizations and companies in varied industries, including health, education, business, government, criminal justice, arts, and others. His work as a cultural competency and diversity, equity, and inclusion anti-bias trainer is well received for its intersectional curriculum content, his accessible training style, and the practical applications of the knowledge and skills acquired. As a keynote speaker, Willy speaks on varied subjects, including cultural competency, healthcare access, gender-affirming care, LGBTQ-affirming systems, intersectionality, community organizing, allyship, equity, wellness, and belonging. 

 

Willy has documented the Asian and Pacific Islander (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. In 1984 Willy published "Asian Lesbianism as a Political Identity" in Sojourner, and in the late '80s was an editor of Phoenix Rising, an API lesbian newsletter. He has published a number of LGBTQ and transgender best practices articles. Willy wrote the forward to the Lambda Literary Award-winning book Life Beyond My Body: A Transgender Journey to Manhood in China (Lei Ming, Transgress Press), the first memoir by a trans man from China. 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. 

 

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 trans 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 was the first Asian and first transgender community health outreach worker to provide street-based HIV education and crisis intervention for drug users and sex workers (including women working in massage parlors) in San Francisco. 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. He worked on the first large-scale research project on the transgender community--the only trans person on the team conducting qualitative data analysis--which he documented in the book Transgender Rights. Willy developed the first HIV prevention program for trans men who have sex with other men, and launched the first peer support programs for Asian transmasculine individuals and transmasculine people of color. He co-organized the first Asian lesbian retreat and the first API transmasculine retreat, API TransFusion.

 

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, a Lambda Literary 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 San Francisco Community Health Center (formerly Asian and Pacific Islander Wellness Center). Willy has participated in numerous advisory boards and committees, such as the Transgender Member Advisory Council at Kaiser Permanente, Northern California,. 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. Learn more at www.willywilkinson.com 

Photo by Cody T. Williams

View Willy's powerful acceptance speech for the 2014 Transgender Law Center, Claire Skiffington Vanguard Award. 

"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

Photos of Willy by Camerawerkz unless otherwise noted, 

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