Is Butterfly based on a true story? New ITV drama starring Anna Friel

ITV drama Butterfly, starring Anna Friel as a mother whose child is transgender, airs on Sunday. Is it based on a true story?

Thanks to shows such as Amazon’s Transparent and Boy Meets Girl on the BBC, the representation of transgender stories and transgender characters on television is coming on by leaps and bounds.

Now, ITV are offering their own take on the transitioning experience with new Sunday night drama Butterfly. The story centres around Vicky (Anna Friel) and her child Max (Callum Booth-Ford) who, from a very young age, knows that her gender identity is at odds with the sex recorded on her birth certificate.

This is initially alarming for Vicky, who isn’t sure how best to care for Max, and the miniseries takes a frank look at the personal challenges their family then encounters.

Over the course of three episodes, we follow Max/Maxine as she struggles to be accepted as a transgender girl, but is the series an entirely original work of fiction or is it based on a true story?

Is ITV drama Butterfly based on a true story?


The series was penned by playwright Tony Marchant who previously worked on an Anna Friel-led drama when writing the BBC miniseries Public Enemies which aired in 2012.

Whilst Butterfly is a fictional representation of the struggles a transgender child might experience, the inspiration for the show very much came from real-life.

Susie Green, head of the charity Mermaids, worked closely with the producers of the show and Butterfly mirrors the true story of Susie and her child Jackie.

In 2010, Jackie Green became the youngest ever British person to have had gender-reassignment surgery, flying over to Thailand to undergo the procedure at the age of 16.

Jackie made headlines two years later when she participated in the Miss England beauty pageant to try and raise awareness for the discrimination faced by transgender women.


Susie Green initially founded Mermaids in 1995 as a support group for parents with gender variant and transgender children. Over the years, the charity has grown in scope, offering support for transgender people below the age of 20 and working to educate the public more widely on trans issues.