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South Side trans man discusses life, healthcare journey
by Carrie Maxwell, Windy City Times
2019-03-13

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When Cheno Pulliam, 33, first stepped foot into Howard Brown Health's Hyde Park location three years ago, he knew this was the right place for him to receive his healthcare.

Pulliam—who identifies as a trans masculine male and is the father of twin 6-year old daughters—has lived on Chicago's South Side his entire life. He currently works as a security officer at the Goodman Theater.

"Growing up in Chicago was not easy, especially in a single parent household with five siblings," said Pulliam. "I saw a lot of things and suffered from homelessness with my mother and three of my siblings. I share this with my LGBTQ family to let them know anything is possible—you just have to fight for your dreams and stand up for what you believe in and never forget who you are and stay true to yourself."

Pulliam was first diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at Christian Community Health Center in 2014, and was prescribed Metformin for his diabetes. When the doctor he was working with at Christian Community Health Center was fired for being trans-inclusive, he decided to find another place for his healthcare needs. This is what led him to Howard Brown Health.

In addition to being treated for diabetes, Pulliam receives his hormone-replacement therapy and mental healthcare needs from Howard Brown Health. "Howard Brown Health has changed my life for the better," said Pulliam.

"Patients can expect culturally affirming services provided by professional staff who reflect the communities they serve, in a safe and welcoming environment," said Howard Brown Health COO and Certified Physician Assistant Kristin Keglovitz Baker. "People of all identities are encouraged to use Howard Brown Health's culturally competent and inclusive programs and health services."

One of the ways Pulliam takes care of his mental health is through his two pet turtles, Mickey and Minnie, he has had since 2005.

"They are my emotional support animals," said Pulliam. "When I first got them, I was going through a rough time. At first I had three of them, but one died and that was a very traumatic time. I was depressed for awhile after that but having Mickey and Minnie helped."

Due to the care he has received at Howard Brown Health, Pulliam has been motivated to run and jog regularly and that has resulted in healthy weight loss as well as keeping his diabetes in check.

"With World Diabetes Alert Day coming up on March 26 and National LGBT Health Awareness Week on March 25-29, I want to make people aware of the importance of taking care of oneself both physically and mentally. My aunt recently died of complications from diabetes. Part of the reason why she died was due instances of interrupted healthcare. I want to make sure people do not suffer her fate."

Giving back to the community is also an essential part of Pulliam's life.

One of the ways Pulliam has done this is through the OSHA bloodborne pathogen training and HIPAA awareness for healthcare providers at Howard Brown Health. He also volunteers with Howard Brown Health's testing program for HIV and other STI's and donates clothes and shoes he does not need to the LGBTQ youth who are experiencing homelessness and receive services at Broadway Youth Center.

"I participated in the teddy-bear drive for La Rabida Children's Hospital twice," said Pulliam. "I have helped give away free hotdogs and snowballs for kids at a neighborhood fair, as well as donated and barbecued food for my social club's back to school event. For the past three years; I donated food, water and supplies to the Dancing Star Elite Majorette and Hip-Hop Dance team during the Bud Billiken Day Parade and for their practices prior to the parade.

"Additionally, I have provided supplies for a Thanksgiving food basket giveaway and blanket giveaway for the homeless. I also have participated in my dance fraternity's mental health workshop series and life information sessions."

When Pulliam is not working, spending time with his family or doing volunteer work he can be found modeling for FashionBar Chicago during Chicago Fashion Week, writing poetry, dancing, playing sports, bowling, roller skating, reading, going to see plays and listening to music.


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