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‘Law & Order: SVU’ Prepping Transgender Episode for Season 17

Law & Order: SVU” has always looked to the headlines, and the upcoming 17th season is already planning to highlight a hot topic issue: the transgender community, which was recently brought to the spotlight in Bruce Jenner’s “20/20” interview.

“We’ve already started our season 17 storylines. We’re doing a story about a transgender teenager,” showrunner Warren Leight told Variety Tuesday, the first day the “SVU” team began prepping the first episode of the upcoming 2015-16 season — which also happens to be the same day the cast was shooting the finale episode for season 16, which airs May 20.

“The world keeps evolving, and there are a lot of dark areas that we need to look at,” Leight added.

With an early renewal handed to the series back in February, Leight explained there are challenges that come with a long-running series. (“SVU” came on the air in 1999, and Leight joined as showrunner in season 13.)

“Part of my challenge and everybody’s challenge here is to keep it fresh and to not let a groove turn into a rut, and that can happen for any show at any time,” he said. “Everyone here is really invested in keeping the show fresh and keeping the show on. We view every year’s upfronts as a place to prove that we still deserve to be here.”

Tonight the series kicks off its second three-way crossover with “Chicago Fire” and “Chicago P.D.,” which was a ratings hit for NBC last year. Leight assures Variety that the two-night event isn’t the only highlight coming before season 16 wraps up.

“Following the crossover, we have three really strong episodes back-to-back-to-back,” he says, teasing #AdoptBabyNoah angst in the finale, which wraps shooting tomorrow. “The season finale is really about Benson and will she get to adopt baby Noah. We’re paying off a lot of threads that we’ve been stitching in for more than a season here.”

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