No Ordinary Man
Mel Y. Chen is an associate professor of Gender & Women’s Studies at UC Berkeley and Director of the Center for the Study of Sexual Culture.
Marquise Vilsón, Scott Turner Schofield, Susan Stryker,
No Ordinary Man offers what the New Yorker’s Richard Brody describes as a moving and vigorous counterpoint to the “prurient, derisive, and skeptical” reporting that followed the death, and “outing,” of jazz musician and family man Billy Tipton in 1989. The inventive documentary is structured around a series of auditions for the role of Billy, in the course of which a diverse array of trans men contemplate his remarkable story in the light of their own experiences. These scenes are interspersed with poignant archival audio recordings, 1990s TV talk shows featuring Tipton’s widow and son, and commentary from transgender activists and scholars, demonstrating the crucial importance of trans histories being told by trans people.
“A compelling, often profound film, one that . . . shines a vital and heartfelt light on being transgender.” —Gary Goldstein, Los Angeles Times