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No Ordinary Man

Country: Canada, Language: English, 80 mins

  • Director: Chase Joynt; Aisling Chin-Yee
  • Writer: Aisling Chin-Yee; Amos Mac
  • Producer: Sarah Spring

CGiii Comment

Who has ever heard of Billy Tipton?!?

You may have, if you're a fan of obscure jazz. And, it would seem, according to this film, if you are trans...he's a bit of icon. Although...when I asked some trans friends [in Europe]...none of them had ever heard of him either.

Well...they have now, courtesy of this film...Billy Tipton is now on the map...and, an inductee into the Trans World's Hall of Fame.

Upon his death, in 1989, his secret was 'outed' - now, what this film fails to ask: how did this incredible invasion of privacy actually happen? Who leaked [i.e. sold] this information to the tabloids? 

His adopted son and estranged wife [they parted in 1977] did round-upon-round of talk shows, newspaper and magazine interviews, radio shows...were they forced to do so? No.

Even...a posthumous [and, it would seem, partially unauthorised] book was written about him in 1998...the story still had legs then...and, in 2020, the story still has legs. Even though that book and this film are about Billy...both seem to have forgotten who he actually was...

The book was mere sensation and can be [dis]regarded as such. The film, on the other hand, is an exercise in subjectivity, creativity and revisionism [ouch]. Billy's experience was not the contemporary trans experience of today, although the filmmakers seem to think so...a major failing of the film. That was then, this is now...the 'then' is not the 'now' and never will be.

Due credit and applause must be given...trans stories being told by trans filmmakers...but, tell those stories as they are and not what you want them to be!

The truth of the matter...and, there are very few truths in this film [but, an abundance of trans-inferences]...Billy Tipton would have wanted to be remembered for his music and as a jazz musician...not as a trans-man...if, indeed, he was actually trans. Whatever...this was his secret and a secret he wanted to take to the grave...but, was denied...by those headlines, that book and this film.


Trailer...

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The(ir) Blurb...

The legacy of Billy Tipton, a 20th-century American jazz musician and trans icon, is brought to life by a diverse group of contemporary trans artists.