© 2018 Michael D. Cohen

Growing up, the only reference point I had for the trans experience was on tabloid TV… it was sensationalistic and exploitive. Clearly I would never want THAT! I wouldn’t want to be seen like those people and be treated so badly! But eventually suppression became too much and my identity released as an epiphany. I finally knew who I was - a man - and I knew what I had to do.  I transitioned in the year 2000. It didn’t feel like a decision. When you realize the truth about yourself you can’t “un-know” it. I already was a man and I just had to make my body match. But three years into transition, I was struggling with the way the world viewed people like me. I knew I wasn’t weird, but yet wasn’t I like those people I had seen ridiculed, misgendered and mistreated on TV?  Who I knew myself to be, and how the world saw people like me were at odds. A mentor of mine, Randy Revell, sat me down for lunch. He knew my struggle and his answer to me was “you have to do a solo show”.  I nearly did a spit take. No way. I would never expose myself like that. But I also knew he was right - I knew I had to tell my story in order to get over myself. And in so doing, I might be able to help other people. Maybe give audiences a clearer idea of what this all is, this gender identity thing. 

And so, after many years and many drafts, the play is ready.  It took so long because I was evolving in real time, shedding layers of self-judgment/other-judgement/world-judgment that gave way to understanding and compassion for all involved. And to write authentically, I needed that time to process. It wasn’t until 2017 that I could really write the ending.  

I did the first reading of this play in 2009, then one in 2011, two in 2015, and finally three staged readings in late June/early July 2018.  The drafts changed dramatically between readings. I knew this play would be ready once it made a particular kind of impact: it had to offer a visceral and emotional understanding of what it is like to grow up with a body that does not match your gender identity. And despite this story being so unique, I wanted the play to be universal; I wanted audience members to gain insight into themselves and their own relationship to their bodies, their gender, to their parents, and their children. And to have compassion for their own and other people’s struggles. I wanted audiences to walk away transformed. And after 13 years of writing, it’s finally there. The feedback from all three audiences at the 2018 staged readings is unanimous. It’s ready and it’s time!

When I started playing “Schwoz” on Nickelodeon’s Henry Danger in 2014 it was pre-Transparent and pre-Caitlyn.  In a few short years, it’s amazing how times have changed. I am proud to say that many on the Henry Danger team attended the staged readings and that Nickelodeon is in full support. Being on a kids’ network allows me the opportunity to send a message to youth of all gender identities that it’s okay to be who you are. 

We are looking for people to partner with us in this synergy. ​  It will start with a Los Angeles premiere within the year, so we are securing production funding now. If you are interested in being a part of this project or have any questions, please email info@michaeldcohen.com or fill out our form on the contact page. 

 

I can’t wait to move this forward!