My son’s a girl
Anna Friel plays the mum of a transgender child in a moving drama
What would you do if your 11-year-old child felt they’d been born in the wrong body? This gender dilemma is at the heart of
ITV’s emotional three-part drama Butterfly, which sees Anna Friel play Vicky Duffy, whose young son, Max, has decided to identify as female.
Vicky has let Max dress as a girl at home, but, as he starts senior school and puberty beckons, the pain he feels at having to suppress his feelings and conform becomes hard to bear and he announces he wants to live as a girl, Maxine.
‘I found Vicky relatable,’ says Anna. ‘At one point she blames herself. The hardest thing for parents is saying hello to a new child and goodbye to another. But she sees her child is in agony.’
While Vicky battles to work out what’s best, her straitlaced mother, Barbara (Alison Steadman), struggles to understand her grandchild. Vicky is also at loggerheads with estranged husband Stephen (former Hollyoaks star Emmett J Scanlan), who thinks it’s just a ‘phase’.
Anna felt a huge sense of responsibility about tackling the issue of gender variance and met a range of children and families at transgender support charity Mermaids.
‘When I heard about the level of bullying these children received, even from the parents of other children, I was flabbergasted,’ she says. ‘I came away with empathy, compassion and respect for their bravery. I felt so touched because they said, “Thank you for telling our story.”’
Difficulties… Gran Barbara and dad Stephen find it hard to understand Supportive…Vicky and Max/Maxine