Michael D. Cohen, a Canadian character actor best known for his role as Schwoz on the Nickelodeon TV series Henry Danger, revealed in an interview this week that he transitioned from female to male nearly 2o years ago.
The 43-year-old Cohen told Time magazine that he underwent the transition around the year 2000, living and acting in female roles prior to then. Cohen has only played male roles since his transition.
“I was misgendered at birth,” Cohen said in the interview. “I identify as male, and I am proud that I have had a transgender experience — a transgender journey.”
Cohen has been playing the part of Schwoz, a silly-accented scientist character, since 2014, first as a recurring character and later as a regular. He’s also appeared on the TV series Modern Family as well as other Nickelodeon shows and is currently starring in an often-aired Wendy’s commercial.
While some transgender actors, such as Laverne Cox, have been out as trans from the start of their careers and others have announced a transition mid-career, Cohen is a rare case of an actor who disclosed after working for years that he had transitioned previously.
Cohen told the magazine that he was motivated to come out after the series of restrictions politicians have put in place toward transgender Americans in recent years.
“This crazy backlash and oppression of rights is happening right in front of me. I can’t stay silent,” Cohen told the magazine. “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.”
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
Cohen is also at work on a play about his transition called 4 Cubits Make a Man, which he describes as “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.”
The cast and crew of Henry Danger have been supportive of Cohen, the magazine said, as has the parent company of Nickelodeon, Viacom.
He also joked about how difficult it is these days to have the name Michael Cohen.
“I’m thinking of changing my name to Paul Manafort.”
Henry Danger was created by Dan Schneider, the prolific children’s television producer who parted ways with Nickelodeon last year, per Deadline, which cited “multiple complaints of abusive behavior against Schneider filed by members of his staff.” Henry Danger, however, survived Schneider’s departure and remains in production.