‘Pretty Little Liars’ Big Villain Reveal is Transphobic and Hackneyed

Pretty Little Liars transgender

For the past six seasons ABC drama ‘Pretty Little Liars’ has been stringing the audience along in a mystery that has been plaguing the audience since the show first hit screens back in 2010.  Who is ‘A’?  For those not in the know, A is a mysterious figure that has been plaguing the ‘heroes’ of the show since the very first episode in a campaign to destroy their lives.

On Wednesday the identity of the big villain of the show was revealed.  A was in fact Charlotte ‘CeCe’ DiLaurentis, and that in the past Charlotte was Charles.  Yep, the show has revealed not only who the villain is, but they’ve gone with the old villain is transgender trope.  Well done ABC, you’ve managed to stoop incredibly low on this one.

Now, the shows producers and writers have come out as saying that the character of CeCe comes from a ‘crazy’ family, and that all of her actions and her past have nothing to do with being transgender, simply from her upbringing and the way her family is.

I’m sorry, but that excuse just isn’t good enough.  It doesn’t matter what the characters past is, how ‘crazy’ her family is or the things they have done.  People are not going to see this reveal as being ‘because of her crazy family’, they’ll be seeing it as the ‘evil tranny’ trope.

It’s been done so many times in the past, from the Bathtub Killer serial killer from CSI, who not only featured as the franchises very first murderer but also became ‘arch-nemesis’ of the lead, to Einhorn in Ace Ventura, which resulted in causing men to vomit, and even Buffalo Bill in Silence of the Lambs who kidnapped and skinned women to make a women suit.  And these are the first three examples I can think of off the top of my head.

Film and television have a very dangerous past of portraying trans people, and trans women especially, in one of three main roles; murder victims, sex workers and killers/criminals.  It’s only been fairly recently that trans women have been cast as ‘regular’ people, i.e. a role where their being trans does not define who they are.

I know that ‘Pretty Little Liars’ is something of a ‘fluff’ show for a teen audience, but that doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t put any thought into the types of characters that they are putting on screen.  They’ve not made a villain who also happens to be transgender, they’ve made a villain who shows that transgender people are bad.  That may not have been their intention bu that’s the result they’re going to get.

Having the ‘big bad’ turn out to be trans isn’t just ill thought out, it’s offensive.  They’ve taken a list of negative stereotypes and checked off each and every one of them.  The character spent time in a mental institute; trans people are crazy.  The character lied throughout the show; trans people are deceivers and can’t be trusted.  The character transitioned to help with their plans; trans peoples identities aren’t real.  The character set out to hurt people; trans people are dangerous.  Every negative stereotype and device to make a trans villain are used.

If the writers and producers wanted a trans character, why make her the villain?  In a world where the number of trans women killed is increasing each year do you really want to promote the idea that trans women are not to be trusted, that we’re out to hurt people for our own psychotic ends?

The shows writers managed, in one fell swoop, created a character that captures every negative stereotype in one, that reinforces all of the right wing anti-lgbt+ propaganda and actively hurts the trans community.

Trans health care is appalling, the odds of a trans person finding a job or housing are incredibly low, and we’re being killed on average every 29 hours.  Our life expectancy is less than 40.  In a world like that do you really think portrayals like this help in any way?

You’re not representing trans people.  You’re not helping our community.  You’re adding to a series of oppression and hate.  You are keeping us out of health care, out of work and on the streets.  You are helping people to kill us.

You should feel ashamed of yourselves and you owe the whole transgender community one hell of an apology.



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Amy is a journalist and editor contributing the websites Planet Transgender, Gay News Network, The Bottle Episode, The Retro Box and Claire Channel. Amy is also a published comic book writer and letterer.

In addition to her writing Amy has also worked with the Centre For Hate Crime Studies in Leicester and has worked in the capacity of an advisor to the United Nations Entity For Gender Equality and The Empowerment of Women.

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