Leigha Cohen is a parent and grandparent who was born in 1950 in Brooklyn, NY.
Leigha Cohen “Ron Cohen” was born transgendered when that definition didn’t exist and was formally diagnosed in 1997. The same goes for having Autism as well which she would finally get diagnosed in 2019. She was also a very visual person which would eventually lead her to explore first photography in 1969 and then film making in 2010. She was very strong also in the sciences and mathematics.
Eventually she would test into one of several NYC specialized schools, Brooklyn Technical High School.
Leigha was also fascinated with sound. She worked as a paperboy when she was 13 and saved up money to buy a reel-to-reel tape recorder where she played with taping sounds, musical shows and experimenting. In HS she learned how to play rhythm guitar and played in some pick up rock bands for a few years. She has done her own sound and sound editing in all of her film work.
She became active politically in 1968 going to her 1st protest against the Vietnam War which was followed by many other protests the next several years. She was active in student organizing at Queens College the 4 years she attended. She remains progressively political today.
She started doing black and white photography in college. Eventually in 1975 she was able to barter taking 6 MFA graduate courses in photography. Her equipment then was a Leica M2. Her thinking style is seen in her photography and compositions whether they be still life’s, portraiture, architectural, sports or Photojournalism.
What she didn’t know, is that for a large portion of her life, she would struggle with several emotional issues including undiagnosed Autism, which would include periods of severe depression and mania “bipolar disorder”, severe anxiety disorder, gender identity issues, PTSD, being suicidal, self-harming herself and being dissociative at times. She became active in these areas in several support groups.
This would eventually start her to be involved in 30 years of psychotherapy starting in 1975-2021, psychiatrists starting in 2002, spending time in psychiatric hospitals and outpatient facilities a few times. She defines now as a psychiatric survivor.
Whatever Leigha does she does it intensely and extremely focused and goal orientated. Her Autism gives her very heighted senses visually, auditory, and touch. She is a pattern thinker. Patternicity is the tendency to find patterns in information and whatever she experiences that appears unconnected becomes connected.
These skills helped her to excel when she went back to school the 4th time in 1980 to study electrical engineering where she graduated 1st in her class. She went on to work as a design and systems engineer at Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory 83-86 and SAIC working on components for the 1st dedicated Proton Accelerator and facility in the US to treat cancer at Loma Linda University Medical Center which opened in 1990.
In 1983 she found the love of her life Cynthia. They had two boys Jeffery Cohen in 1988 and Mitchell Cohen in 1990. They moved to Lawrenceville NJ in 1995 where Leigha still lives. Now part time splitting her time as she lives in Brooklyn since 2015. There of course was lots of family and community drama when Leigha finally became self-aware that she was transgendered in 1997 and went through a 3-year process to change her gender from male to female. Cyndy and Leigha separated in 2001 and where divorced in 2004.
She became disabled in 2004 with severe Migraines. She went back to doing photography and worked with several organizations supporting disabled artiest including VSA and local hospitals in the Northeast where she displayed her photography where she won several awards.
In 2011, she answered an ad if one wanted to learn how to make a documentary. She took the class at Princeton TV and eventually made her 1st documentary, 99% Solution. It was about environmental and political issues associated to present and future access to clean drinking water. It was shown in the NJ 2012 Film Festival.
She went on to become politically active in several movements around gun control, consequences of capitalism, Anti-War and Health related issues. She contributed to documentaries as an associate producer and filmmaker in Groundswell Rising and I am David Bryant, both that were shown in several film festivals. Another documentary she made was A Doctor's View Point "The business of the US Medical System".
She started a TV show A progressive Voice that was shown on multiple Community Access TV stations in the US starting in 2012-2015.
In 2019 she became involved with BRIC which is a is a non-profit arts organization based in Brooklyn. She is now a Certified TV and Community Producer. She completed the intensive: 2021 Cohort Class where she made solo short documentary Autism lost generations and Neurodiversity which also features her son Jeffrey and Ex-wife Cyndy.