Michael D. Cohen, who plays eccentric genius Schwoz on the popular Nickelodeon superhero series Henry Danger, is opening up about his gender identity, publicly revealing he transitioned almost 20 years ago.
“I was misgendered [as female] at birth,” the 43-year-old Canadian actor tells Time. “I identify as male, and I am proud that I have had a transgender experience—a transgender journey.”
Grateful & happy to be able to share my story. Big thx to my @HenryDanger @Nickelodeon family & @glaad @katysteinmetz for their support. I hope that by sharing this part of my life story it will help more people of trans experience feel seen & less alone https://t.co/eW18ITFfCG
— Michael D. Cohen (@michaeldsee) May 23, 2019
While Cohen does not use the word transgender to categorize or describe himself, he does identify as a member of the trans community. “These are my people,” he says. “I belong to this group.”
“In my experience, I was born male,” Cohen explains. “What my body said about it was irrelevant. No matter how hard I tried, it was not up for negotiation. Believe me, it would have been so convenient if I was actually a woman.”
“The transgender part, that’s the journey, that’s my history, that’s my situation—it’s not my identity,” he clarifies to People. “I don’t want to refer to myself as something that I’m only doing to make it easier for other people to understand me. I did that for too long, for too much of my life.”
Cohen, who transitioned in 2000, has been upfront about his gender identity with both Henry Danger colleagues and Nickelodeon executives, who have expressed support for him and “diversity in all its forms.”
Henry Danger star Jace Norman tells Time that Cohen’s revelation “didn’t change anything about the high level of respect and admiration I have for the guy.” The 19-year-old actor adds, “It’s in the best interest of the entire world to have every type of person represented on TV.”
Cohen says he chose to come out more publicly due in part to the current political and cultural climate: “This crazy backlash and oppression of rights is happening right in front of me. I can’t stay silent. The level of—let’s be polite—misunderstanding around trans issues is so profound and so destructive. When you disempower one population, you disempower everybody.”
By coming out while appearing on Nickelodeon’s longest-running live-action sitcom, Cohen hopes to “send a message to kids that whoever they are, however they identify, that’s celebrated and valued and OK.”
Time also reports that Cohen is set to soon perform 4 Cubits Make a Man, an autobiopgraphical one-man show he wrote that “chronicles how he came to grips with his identity, as well as how he navigated family, romantic relationships and widespread ideas about what makes someone a man.”
Cohen has volunteered at a camp for trans youth and is a lifeline counselor for The Trevor Project. His other acting credits include Modern Family, 2 Broke Girls, and the film Suburbicon.
Nickelodeon made network history in 2016 with its first portrayal of a same-sex male couple in the animated series The Loud House. The network also featured a younger female couple in the 2014 finale of its animated series The Legend of Korra, and RuPaul voiced a character in a 2015 episode of Bubble Guppies. The popular Nickelodeon game show Double Dare welcomed its first same-sex parents last year.
Henry Danger premiered in 2014 and is currently in its fifth season.
Watch a recent Henry Danger summer trailer below.