Willy Wilkinson

Author of the Lambda Literary Award-winning book Born on the Edge of Race and Gender: A Voice for Cultural Competency

Willy Wilkinson, MPH is an award-winning, Asian American, transgender writer, public health consultant, cultural competency trainer, public speaker, and spoken word performer. 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. 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. He is the first transgender person to receive the Asian Pacific Islander Queer Women and Transgender Community Phoenix Award. Willy has provided LGBTQ and trans-specific training and consultation services for hundreds of community health organizations, educational institutions, businesses, and other audiences. He has presented keynote speeches, cultural competency trainings, and performances at campuses such as Stanford, Princeton University, Vassar College, Pomona College, UC Berkeley, Roger Williams University, and Elon University. He is a frequent presenter at numerous conferences, including the Philly Trans Health Conference, Gender Odyssey, Gender Spectrum, TRANSforming Gender, Creating Change, California Teachers Association LGBT Conference, and the Substance Use Disorders Statewide Conference. Willy has written for numerous periodicals, including the San Francisco Chronicle, the Advocate, the Huffington Post, and Asian Week. His work has appeared in journals such as Transgender Studies Quarterly, and numerous anthologies, including Transgender Rights; The Lesbian Health Book; Trans Bodies, Trans Selves; and Manning Up: Transsexual Men on Finding Brotherhood, Family, and Themselves. The Lambda Literary Review has described his writing as “highly evocative.” Willy has been advocating for marginalized populations since the early days of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. He has worked extensively with communities of color, sex workers, substance users, youth, families, and people with disabilities. As 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, Willy pioneered an outreach model that addressed the unique needs of Asians and Pacific Islanders. He worked on the first large-scale research project on the transgender community, and developed the first HIV prevention program for trans men who have sex with other men. 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 was a key organizer of the API lesbian movement of the ‘80s, and organized the first peer support programs for API transmasculine individuals and people of color on the female-to-male spectrum. He is a key organizer of API TransFusion, the first API transmasculine retreat. Willy served as a founding board member for both Transgender Law Center and Asian & Pacific Islander Wellness Center, and on 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. He lives in Oakland, California with his three vibrant, young children. Learn more at