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Business owner’s personal journey hopes to bring change for trans community

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    LIBERTY, Missouri (KCTV) — Making candles comes naturally for EJ Wood – owner of Untamed Supply in Liberty. But it was other issues, under the surface that was burning him up.

He says in the past, if people would ask him his pronouns, he would get angry.

Assigned female at birth, 18 years ago Wood came out as a lesbian. Like many of us this past year, Wood was forced to pause — to sit with ourselves. It was a journey that led Wood to come out again. This time as a transgender man.

“There’s some self-hatred stuff that I’ve had to come and learn to love myself and there isn’t anything wrong with me,” Wood said.

In 2019, 11,000 gender confirmation or sex reassignment surgeries were performed in the United States. That was up 15-percent from the previous year. The American Society of Plastic Surgeons expects that number to skyrocket in the next five years. Wood is scheduled for top surgery and openly talks about his transition.

“Being visible and authentic is part of who I am and my business, and there’s a lot more we can do for the queer and trans community in KC, and hopefully this is the beginning of some of that,” Wood said.

Wood’s top surgery will cost over $10,000. For a small business owner with no insurance, he says there was no way he could do it alone. And he’s not alone.

About 17-percent of LGBTQ adults in the U.S. don’t have any kind of health insurance compared to 12-percent of non-LGBTQ adults.

There’s now a GoFundMe to help raise money for Wood’s surgery. Untamed Supply is also selling shirts and “top shelf” candles. All of the profits will go to his gender affirming surgery.

“It’s so important to me and who I am to be comfortable with myself that id’ love to continue to give that back,” Wood said.

He hopes to fund other people’s gender affirming surgeries going forward.

“It’s like a huge weight has been lifted. I can navigate and think more clearly and be more at home with myself than ever before,” Wood said.

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