No Ordinary Man is an in-depth look at the life of musician and trans culture icon Billy Tipton. Complicated, beautiful and historically unrivaled, this groundbreaking film shows what is possible when a community collaborates to honor the legacy of an unlikely hero.
For decades, the life of American Jazz musician Billy Tipton was framed as the story of an ambitious woman passing as a man in pursuit of a music career. In No Ordinary Man, Tipton’s story is re-imagined and performed by trans artists as they collectively paint a portrait of an unlikely hero. Together, the filmmakers join Tipton’s son Billy Jr. to reckon with a complicated and contested legacy: how do you tell the story of someone who was hiding in plain sight yet desperate to be seen?
- Written by Aisling Chin-Yee & Amos Mac
- Directed by Aisling Chin-Yee & Chase Joynt
- Produced by Sarah Spring
- Cinematography Léna Mill-Reuillard
- Sound Recordist Lynne Trépanier
- Edited by Aisling Chin-Yee
- Sound design Marie-Pierre Grenier
This film was made possible by the financial support of the Canada Media Fund, TELEFILM Canada, La Société de développement des entreprises culturelles (SODEC), Documentary Channel, TVOntario, and Canadian and Provincial tax credits
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Writing about “No Ordinary Man”
Throughout ‘No Ordinary Man,’ audiences will see archival footage of people and media outlets misgendering Billy Tipton, disrespecting him, and refusing to acknowledge the simple fact that he was the man he said he was.
It’s important that when covering the film, journalists refer to Billy Tipton as a transgender man. If the story needs to define what it means to be a transgender man, GLAAD recommends “Billy Tipton was assigned female at birth, but he knew he was a man and he lived his life as his most authentic self.”
There is no need to use any other names or pronouns that Billy didn’t use to describe himself. One of the film’s themes is restoring Billy Tipton’s story to him, placing him within the context of trans men of his era, and exploring his legacy for trans men today. We ask that journalists respect Billy’s life in your coverage, and adhere to best journalistic practices with how to cover the trans community.
For more information about how to fairly and accurately cover transgender people: https://www.glaad.org/reference/transgender