Pretty Little Liars</em> Transphobic Writing Is Hackneyed, Harmful

By Brynn Tannehill

For six seasons, the ABC Family tween-drama Pretty Little Liars has been leading up to a reveal of who the hiding-in-plain-sight-all-along arch-villain was. Wednesday, the show revealed the psychotic antagonist to be Charlotte “CeCe” DiLaurentis.

Born Charles DiLaurentis. Who is crazy, and transgender, and crazy because they’re transgender and spent time in an asylum because they’re crazy. Because transgender. While the show’s producers have done a hand wave saying that CeCe comes from a crazy family and that all this has nothing to do with her being transgender, this claim is simply not credible. The rest of the “crazy” family aren’t doing the things that make CeCe the “Big Bad” of the show.

First, this “twist” was already cliché when Ace Ventura did it in 1994 four years after Silence of the Lambs did it in 1991, 11 years after Dressed to Kill and 31 years after Norman Bates cross-dressed his way through Psycho. Using transgender people and their transitions as a twist, and a way to explain psychotic behavior, is just plain lazy writing and has been for 50 plus years. It’s the “big-bad unmasking” equivalent to revealing that all of the 9th season of Dallas was all just a dream.

If George Lucas had made Jar-Jar Binks a crack dealer, it still wouldn’t be as hackneyed and offensive as what Marlene King and her writers have created. Even the name they chose is insensitive: CeCe McDonald is a transgender woman of color who went to a men’s prison for 19 months defending herself against a drunken Neo-Nazi.

So let’s look at all the stereotypes they hit:

Transgender people are crazy. Check

Transgender people are deceivers. Check.

Transgender people’s identities aren’t real (because they’re crazy). Check.

Transgender people are dangerous. Check.

It’s impressive really. They managed to create a character that simultaneously exemplifies all the negative stereotypes that prevent transgender people from getting jobs, receiving health care, finding housing and being accepted as who they are by their families. It did manage to reaffirm the messages transgender people are probably dangerous, should be locked in asylums, are lying about who they are and are an acceptable target for violence.

The producers of the show managed to reinforce the talking points of every right wing, anti-LGBT hate group working against the basic human transgender people in the US.

Great job. Have a cookie.

What’s worse is that the producer should know better. From the 1870’s onwards, the concept of “female hysteria” was used to dismiss anything women thought, did or said, as well as their objections to being labeled as such. Donald Trump’s odious comments about Megyn Kelly echo those 19th century labels, and demonstrate that when you categorize an entire group of people as mentally incompetent, it sticks around for generations.

It’s also not as if the writers weren’t warned this was a really, really bad idea in feminist online media content months …read more

Source: More Fitness

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