Skip to main content

Pretty Little Liars‘ Season Finale Reinforces an Awful Transgender Trope


pretty little liars

Ugh. So okay. Pretty Little Liars, a show focused on one character’s revenge against a group of women, reached its penultimate episode last night when it revealed who the person is that had been terrorizing their group all through the series up to this point. If you follow Pretty Little Liars, then you should probably be warned now: spoilers, y’all.

In the “shocking” episode, it was revealed that the person tormenting the group for nigh on five years, named A, was actually a character named CeCe all along. But the “surprise” came when it was revealed that CeCe is actually a trans woman. Yeah. Like we needed more reinforcement of that terrible trope about “unhinged trans women.”

What’s more, in past episodes of the series, CeCe ended up dating her estranged brother, who introduced her to their father, who also didn’t recognize her. One can’t help but feel that these “reveals” were just played up for shock value. Double ugh.

The internet has been awash with people reacting to the episode, but mostly in the sense that it, well, doesn’t make any sense to them. The fact that CeCe is trans seems secondary to people’s reactions, but that does not forgive or change the fact that this is once again another example of an exploitative, tired storyline that gets abused by writers time and again.

The world really doesn’t need another story about a “crazy trans woman.” I promise. Society does that enough on its own. To create stories around this dangerous trope is not only hurtful, it’s lazy. You’re essentially parroting how a lot of people already feel about trans people and preserving the status quo.

It’s important to note that no, this isn’t a request to have people stay away from villain trans characters completely. But as I said in my piece about Batgirl #37, the world does not need more harmful reinforcement of tropes. What it needs is more positive examples to help change the conversation. It’s true that there have been more positive examples of trans women being distributed throughout the media in Laverne Cox, Caitlyn Jenner, Jamie Clayton, Janet Mock, Jazz Jennings, and more. But every time a story like this ends up hitting prime time television, it turns the whole thing into two steps forward, four steps back.

(via The Hollywood Reporter)

—Please make note of The Mary Sue’s general comment policy.—

Do you follow The Mary Sue on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Pinterest, & Google +?

Have a tip we should know? [email protected]

Filed Under:

Follow The Mary Sue:

Jessica Lachenal is a writer who doesn’t talk about herself a lot, so she isn’t quite sure how biographical info panels should work. But here we go anyway. She's the Weekend Editor for The Mary Sue, a Contributing Writer for The Bold Italic (, and a Staff Writer for Spinning Platters ( She's also been featured in Model View Culture and Frontiers LA magazine, and on Autostraddle. She hopes this has been as awkward for you as it has been for her.