North Bay man shares transgender journey to help others
Seth Compton has spent more than four decades living in the wrong body.
His journey to make it right has taken Compton on many paths. But, in the end, Compton believes he’s stronger than he could ever have imagined.
He decided to share his story with the public to help others struggling with the same issues, while launching a business plan to further his passion to provide a safe place for the LGBTQ community to learn, interact and have fun.
“I was trapped in the wrong body,” Compton says. “Imagine how scary that is? I just wanted to wake up and have everything be different. I wanted to wake up and be Seth.”
Compton was born female, but that wasn’t how he felt.
He ignored his feelings, pushed away his thoughts and conformed to what was considered “normal” back in the 1980s and ’90s.
“I was in counselling from the age of nine to 19,” Compton says. “But I continued to struggle with my identity. I was fearful.”
Compton was involved in a heterosexual relationship and had a son, who is now in his 20s serving in the Canadian military. But he suffered from depression and struggled with thoughts of suicide.
“I went to my family doctor and asked what I could do. I knew something wasn’t right, but what I didn’t know was how to fix it.
“I knew I needed to make a change.”
Compton believes that was the start to becoming his real self.
He ended up finding his life partner, Anna, and they moved back to North Bay from southern Ontario to raise their two sons.
On the outside, things appeared fine. But what was happening on the inside was a different story, he says.
Compton knew he had to take the next step so he announced on Instagram his decision to transition to become a man.
“For years, I have suggested to my wife that I feel like I’m living in the wrong body,” he posted. “I have bottled everything up. I thought becoming a mother would change how I was really feeling, but it didn’t. I just continued to hide who I really was and fought off the demons in my head.
“It took me a long time to realize that being transgender didn’t make me any less of a person or, more importantly, any less of a man. We’re all different in our own right and we should embrace those differences.”
Compton says he feels good knowing he figured out the root of his mental health problems, “so with the loving support of my beautiful family, I will be moving forward with a transition to become the person I feel like on the inside.
“Coming out as transgender can range from scary and difficult to exciting and liberating, and is a very personal decision,” he says.
“Some people choose to come out before they medically or socially transition, and some choose to come out after or during the process. I chose to come out right here right now on social media because this is where most of my support has been discovered.”
While Compton has yet to decided whether he will go through with the operation to physically become a man, on the inside he’s already there.
Compton says he was overwhelmed with messages of support and love from family and friends, as well as from strangers.
“Parents, kids from around the world have reached out to me. They tell me I’m giving them hope and encouraging them to be who they are . . . who they truly are.”
But that was just the beginning. Compton knew once he had his own affairs in order, he wanted to follow his passion to help others.
He launched OutLoud North Bay and is currently looking for a space to accommodate a cafe, host a games night, outreach services, speakers to talk about mental health and addiction, and possibly a shelter.
“There’s nothing for the kids and I wanted to offer something to fill that gap,” Compton explains, adding he’s attended the North Bay Business Centre to come up with a business plan, approached local businesses and purchased merchandise.
While Compton works on the logistics, he also is spending time creating a documentary with Canadore College, as well as working on a book of compiled “coming out” stories.
“Things have come a long way since I first started this journey,” Compton says.
“So many kids are questioning their own identity and don’t have the opportunity to ask questions. I want to be that person they can come to and let them know their identity shouldn’t prohibit them from becoming what they want,” he says.
“Kids are turning to drugs and resorting to suicide to help them cope because they’re feeling they’re stuck in the wrong body. I was there. I know what that feels like.”