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Tipton, Billy

Billy Tipton (1914–1989) was a jazz and swing musician and entertainer who played piano and saxophone and sang in bands and trios throughout the Midwest and Pacific Northwest from the mid-1930s through the mid-1970s. Born Dorothy Tipton in Oklahoma City, Billy began living as a man at the age of 19. He died in Spokane, Washington, at the age of 74. He did not identify as a trans person. At his death, the revelation of his anatomy by paramedics stunned his adopted sons and everyone who knew him, including four of his five ex-wives, and set off very public debates about sex and gender that resonated throughout the then coalescing trans men’s community.

The coroner, who had signed the autopsy report prepared by a pathologist certifying ...

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