“NO ORDINARY MAN”— Rewriting the Past


Rewriting the Past

Amos Lassen

Directors Aisling Chin-Yee and Chase Joyntrewrite the past by correcting the story of jazz musician Billy Tipton through voices he inspired. 

The film confronts the often-circulated but incorrect narrative that Tipton was a woman who passed as a man to enjoy a musical career during the 1940s and ‘50s. The film honors the musician’s life and music by reminds audiences that Tipton was a transgender male who took a courageous path while pursuing his passion. We see the importance of considering the duties and responsibilities entailed within telling a story that is not one’s own.

Interviewees reflect upon Tipton’s story, their own transitions, and the pervasive erasure of transgender experiences from the mainstream. Audition scenes let the diverse cast members perform an idea of Billy Tipton and further expand the boundaries for trans-masculine representation. Ironically, by queering Tipton’s story the film straightens out the past.

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