Mulan Williams Is Empowering Trans Women of Color in Orlando to Stop HIV Together

Mulan Williams, an advocate based in Orlando, Florida, is making a difference in the lives of her community. Williams serves as community outreach coordinator at Miracle of Love Inc., an organization dedicated to providing “comprehensive, multicultural HIV/AIDS care, education and prevention services that are effective and responsive to the Central Florida communities.”

“I got into this work because I saw a lack of representation and support for my trans community members of color,” Williams shared. “I took it upon myself to do something about it by opening up my home as a haven for trans commercial sex workers. I provide them with condoms and lube, information about HIV prevention and treatment services and local resources. I also let the ladies park in my parking lot and give them a place to run to when things get a little rough because life happens.”

Williams is a part of AIDS United’s first-ever cohort of the Fund for Resilience, Equity and Engagement and the Transgender Leadership Initiative Leadership Development Program. These leaders were chosen through AIDS United’s grantee partner organizations as representatives of transgender and gender-nonconforming people and Black gay, bisexual, queer and same-gender-loving men — populations in our communities most disproportionately impacted by HIV.

We caught up with Williams to learn more about her story and how she works to mobilize her community to stop HIV together.

How did you get into this field? 

I have been doing hard work and heart work in my community for many years, which caught the attention of Miracle of Love Inc., where I work as a community outreach coordinator.  I have been working for the Miracle of Love for over a year education and empowering the Central Florida LGBTQ+ community when it comes to HIV prevention and treatment. I also manage outreach programming for The Bros in Convo Initiative, a Black-led community-based organization under the fiscal sponsorship of Miracle of Love.

How do we start to reduce the barriers preventing transgender women of color from accessing care? 

Three barriers for trans women of color to accessing care (like mental health services, HIV care, PrEP, etc.) are lack of access to affordable health care, lack of employment opportunities and lack of education on trans health among community stakeholders.

To overcome these challenges, I think there are opportunities to make health care services more affordable by making them based on income. It’s about creating job readiness programs that educate and empower TWOC with the skills and tools needed but also about community stakeholders being committed and intentional on hiring TWOC on all levels from frontline, administrative and executive. And lastly, community stakeholders need to hire TWOC as consultants to provide education and insight on how their services can be affordable and affirming to TWOC.

What are some of the challenges preventing trans women of color from being in executive leadership roles? What are some of the solutions to addressing those challenges? 

Some of the challenges preventing TWOC from being in leadership/executive leadership roles are that there are not enough leadership roles are available for TWOC. Sometimes formal education requirements prevent us from applying for those roles. We need community stakeholders to be committed and intentional about building the capacity of TWOC. Community stakeholders can help cultivate and prepare TWOC for leadership through assistance with formal education, job readiness and other capacity-building training.