Michael D. Cohen, who is primarily known for his role on the Nickelodeon series Henry Danger, just opened about his transition from female to male that took place 20 years ago.
He spoke with PEOPLE on Thursday, May 23, about how he felt he was assigned the wrong gender at birth and decided to transition to male and align with his “core being and essence” on April 26, 2000.
“It was an epiphany for me,” he said of the life-changing day. “I said, ‘I need to know, it’s now or never.’ It all came together and from that day on, I was living as a man.”
“Who I am is male, that’s a non-negotiable part of me,” he added. “I’m born with this… It’s not something that got evolved from the outside. It would’ve been much more convenient if I were female… But this is who I am.”
The Winnipeg, Canada native also touched on how he always wanted to be an actor growing up but felt there was “something about me that just wasn’t right” and struggled to come to terms with his identity.
“As a kid, I always knew who I was, but that gets suppressed. If you don’t have an environment that understands, and if you don’t have an environment that supports, then the only thing you can do to survive is suppress,” he explained.
“Suppression is one of the biggest disease-causing issues in society — whether it’s mental, physical, emotional, spiritual — we need to be able to express ourselves, it is our birthright and it is what we need in order to be healthy.”
Michael also spoke on his trans experience as it related to his career after he had the procedure.
“I was always scared that I wouldn’t be able to realize my dreams because of it,” he explained. “I was terrified of that for so long — even as an adult when I transitioned 20 years ago. I was like, ‘I know this is my path, I know I’m an actor. How am I going to be able to do what I want to do [and] have the career I want and transition? How is that going to be okay?’”
“I just kept putting one foot in front of the other and having faith that it’s all gonna work out,” he continued.
He did a similar interview with Time about his transitioning that included a quote for others who felt the way he did at a young age. “To all kids, whoever you are, however you identify, you are celebrated and valued and ok.”
Michael received a ton of support from his followers after he posted about the news on his Instagram. “
Just read the article. You are so brave to put this out there during these times,” one fan wrote. “It wonderful to see all the support and allies you have. We love you, your character, the show and look forward to watching every day. I know I’m just a fan but I’m proud of you Michael and my 10-year-old son is too.”
Michael joins a slew of other actors who have openly talked about their trans identity. This has included Laverne Cox, Brian Michael Smith and Jamie Clayton.