Anna Friel hopes her new drama Butterfly will help shift perceptions about the trans community.
The new three-part drama explores the struggles of Max, an 11-year-old boy who wishes to be known as Maxine and no longer wants to hide his secret identity from the world.
Friel, who co-produced the ITV series, and stars as Max’s mother Vicky Duffy, says she’s hopes the series will improve people’s understandings and perceptions about families with children that are struggling with gender dysphoria.
“I think it’s a very important story to be told which will educate people,” Friel said.
She also compared the controversial issues explored in the series to that of her game changing lesbian kiss in Brookside in 1994.
“Think back to 25 years ago, to another girl – ‘Ahhhh’. And now all that time on, now it’s the blink of an eye, so hopefully we’ll make that same progress,” she said.
As part of her research for the series Friel, and her costar Emmett J. Scanlan, who plays Vicky’s estranged husband, visited transgender charity Mermaids UK. There they spent time with families and children going through similar situations to those explored in Butterfly.
Friel said many of the children thanked her ‘for telling my story’ and were grateful for an entire series focusing on this important issue.
Scanlan said he didn’t know much on the issue prior to doing the series, but the show and research helped open his eyes.
“There’s a great line in the show when Vicky says – and I’m paraphrasing here: ‘It’s better to have a daughter than a dead son’, and that really resonated with me.
“The statistics within the community, over three quarters of them self-harm and nearly half of them have attempted suicide, it’s a horrific statistic,” he said.
Butterfly will air on ITV later this year.