LIBERTY, MO (KCTV) – Candle making comes naturally for EJ Wood – owner of Untamed Supply in Liberty. But it was other problems, below the surface, that were burning him.
He says that in the past, if people asked him for his pronouns, he would get angry.
A woman assigned at birth 18 years ago, Wood became a lesbian. Like many of us this year, Wood has been forced to take a break – to sit with ourselves. It was a trip that made Wood come out again. This time as a transgender man.
“There is some self-loathing stuff that I had to come up with and learn to love myself and there’s nothing wrong with me,” Wood said.
In 2019, 11,000 sex confirmation or reassignment surgeries were performed in the United States. This was a 15% increase over the previous year. The American Society of Plastic Surgeons expects that number to skyrocket over the next five years. Wood is due for high-level surgery and speaks openly about his transition.
“Being visible and authentic is part of who I am and my business, and there is a lot more we can do for the queer and trans community in KC, and I hope this is the start of a part of that, ”Wood said.
Wood’s best surgery will cost over $ 10,000. For a small business owner without insurance, he said there was no way he could do it alone. And he is not alone.
About 17% of LGBTQ adults in the United States have no type of health insurance, compared to 12% of non-LGBTQ adults.
There is now a GoFundMe to help raise money for Wood’s surgery. Untamed Supply also sells “high end” shirts and candles. All proceeds will go towards her gender affirmation surgery.
“It’s so important to me and to who I am to be comfortable with myself that I love to keep doing this,” said Wood.
He hopes to fund other people’s gender affirmation surgeries in the future.
“It’s like a huge weight has been lifted. I can navigate and think more clearly and be more comfortable with myself than ever before, ”said Wood.
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