Butterfly FAQs

Episode 1

What can someone do if they are victim to transphobic bullying?

Report to the Police

Hate crimes and incidents are any crime or incident which is targeted at a victim because of the offender's hostility or prejudice against an identifiable group of people. So any incident or crime (which bullying can amount to), which is perceived to be motivated because of a person's transgender identity will be recorded as such. Hate crimes or incident and should be reported to the police:

In an emergency

  • Call 999 or 112.
  • If you cannot make voice calls, you can now contact the 999 emergency services by SMS text from your mobile phone. However, you will only be able to use this service if you have registered with emergencySMS first. 

Contact the police

  • On either 999 or 112 or by visiting your local station
  • Who you can speak to in confidence. You do not have to give your personal details, but please be aware the investigation and ability to prosecute the offender(s) is severely limited if the police cannot contact you. 
  • If you feel safe and comfortable, mention the action to be of a transphobic nature as this will ensure it is dealt with as a hate crime/incident  

Report online

  • You can report online using the facility on this website.   

By reporting it, you may be able to prevent these incidents from happening to someone else.

Working with the School

The public sector Equality Duty requires schools to eliminate discrimination on the grounds of gender reassignment. This includes supporting a child to socially transition or to be treated in their self-identified gender, as well as to tackling transphobic bullying. Schools are also required to advance equality of opportunity and foster good relations. This means that schools should go beyond tackling bullying and take proactive steps to celebrate difference and promote respect of others. 

Ask the incident to be recorded on the school record and enquire as to what the school is going to do in response to the incident. If you are not happy with the school’s response ask for their decision around their approach to be explained in writing together with a copy of any policy or guidance used to reach such a decision. 

Approaching the school and being part of an honest assessment of the problems you have and an opportunity to explore the best ways to address them. 

Other options are also available at “What should my school do to support me if I come out as trans?” section 

Please note this answer does not constitute legal advice and should you need legal representation this should be sought directly. Please contact our helpline on 0344 334 0550 should you want to discuss your situation with our legal department.

Domestic abuse and what to do about it

If you are in an emergency situation you should call the police on 999.

Domestic Violence can be dealt with at both a criminal and civil level. 

The Police would pursue the criminal aspect of any situation, but individuals can also consider pursuing a civil action. The Family Law Act 1996 also provides remedies for domestic violence that provide protection; these include a ‘Non Molestation Order’ (NMO) and/or an ‘Occupation Order’ (OO). 

A NMO prohibits someone from molesting another person who they are associated with; children under 16, if they have sufficient understanding, can also apply for a NMO with leave from the court. 

An OO aims to regulate the occupation of the family home and can exclude someone from it. 

Please note this answer does not constitute legal advice and should you need legal representation this should be sought directly. Please contact our helpline on 0344 334 0550 should you want to discuss your situation with our legal department.

Episode 2

Why did the family only have to wait 5 months to see a specialist?

Back when this drama was written 2 years ago, the waiting times for the Tavistock and Portman clinic were around 18 weeks instead of the 18+ month wait of today. While the time-frames depicted in the ITV drama are also shortened for dramatic impact, the reality for families with trans kids is much different. Waiting times for a first appointment at the Tavistock and Portman is now at 18+ months, leaving many trans kids and their families without critical support for extended periods of time.

The clinicians say that blockers can cause long term growth effects. Is this true?

This has been an emotive issue discussed in the press in detail.  Timely medical intervention following assessment, vastly alleviates the distress that transgender young people experience through bodily changes. The majority of young people seek puberty blocking medication via the NHS, however, there are private alternatives available. This is dramatized and some artistic license has been taken in Butterfly’s representation of this process, particularly in relation to timelines, as Vicky dashes abroad with Maxine to seek medical help. In reality, the process, both on the NHS and privately, is more complex and considered. If you are interested in the international best practice guidelines from the Endocrine Society, you can view their latest statement and guidelines here.

This is a constantly evolving field of expertise, of which the World Professional Association of Transgender Health (WPATH) is the leading authority. Current guidance is in the process of being reviewed and updated by world-leading experts in transgender care, including Mermaids CEO, Susie Green, who is a contributing member for the Children’s Chapter.

An in-depth study about the effects of hormone blockers is available to read here.

When can a child consent to their own medical treatment?

Any patient who is 16 or older is legally entitled to consent to (or refuse) their own treatment. The only exception to where consent can be overruled is where refusal of treatment is deemed to lead to death or severe permanent injury, in keeping with the Mental Capacity Act (2005).

People under the age of 16 can consent to their own treatment, provided they are capable of understanding what is involved in the treatment. These children are deemed ‘Gillick Competent’ (GC) a principle established in 1985.

Therefore, with regard to the prescription of hormones, the case can be made that if a patient is GC and has reached tanner Stage 2 and fulfils the criteria for gender dysphoria in adults and adolescents, the most reasonable conclusion is to provide treatment subject to lack of contraindications.

Of course, we know in practise there is an arbitrary prevention of puberal development until one’s 16th birthday (and often considerably later than this due to waiting times in the current system).

Please note this answer does not constitute legal advice and should you need legal representation this should be sought directly. Please contact our helpline on 0344 334 0550 should you want to discuss your situation with our legal department.

Episode 3 

Do you need consent of both parents to access medical treatment for a child?

If one person with parental responsibility gives consent (and deemed to have mental capacity to provide this consent) and another doesn’t, the healthcare professionals can choose to accept the consent and perform the treatment.

Please note this answer does not constitute legal advice and should you need legal representation this should be sought directly. Please contact our helpline on 0344 334 0550 should you want to discuss your situation with our legal department.

Section 1 Child Abduction Act; what is it and when is someone committing a criminal offence?

Section 1 of the Child Abduction Act 1984 (CAA) makes it a criminal offence for a person ‘connected’ with a child under 16 to take or send the child out of the UK without the appropriate consent. A person is ‘connected’ with a child if:

  • They are a parent if the child

  • If parents are not married at the time of the child’s birth, there are reasonable grounds for believing someone is the father of the child

  • They are the guardian of the child

  • They are someone named in a Child Arrangement Order (CAO) as a person with whom a child is to live is in force with respect to the child

  • They have custody of the child

‘Appropriate consent’ means the consent of the child’s parents (if they have ‘Parental Responsibility’), any guardian of the child, any person in whose favour a CAO as a person with whom a child is to live is in force with respect to the child, any person who has custody of the child, or the leave of the court under Part II of the Children Act 1989.

The law does provide a limited defence to this offence. A person does not commit an offence under this section if the act is made in the belief that the other person has consented; or would consent if they were aware of all the relevant circumstances; or they have taken all reasonable steps to communicate with the other person but has been unable to communicate; or the other person has unreasonably refused to consent.

If a parent is concerned their child is going to be abducted there are preventative measures that can be taken such as Passports being obtained and/or system of ‘port alert’ commenced. This kind of case should only ever be dealt with by a solicitor who has expertise in abduction cases.

Section 12 of the Children Act 1989 states that where a CAO is in place no person may remove a child from the UK without the written consent of every person who has PR or leave of the court, but that person named on the CAO as the person with whom the child lives may remove the child for up to one month. Clear written consent is from those connected should be obtained.

Please note this answer does not constitute legal advice and should you need legal representation this should be sought directly. Please contact our helpline on 0344 334 0550 should you want to discuss your situation with our legal department.

Can family members other than parents apply for residency of a trans child?

A Child Arrangement Order means an Order relating to arrangements around who a child is to live with, spend time with or otherwise have contact.

Certain categories of people are entitled to make an application for a child arrangements order (CAO) under Section 8 Children Act 1989 without having to seek permission from the court first, and they are:

  • the parent, guardian or special guardian of a child;

  • any person who has parental responsibility;

  • anyone who holds a residence order in respect of the child;

  • any party to a marriage or civil partnership where the child is a child of the family;

  • anyone with whom the child has lived for at least three years;

  • anyone who has obtained the consent of:

    • the local authority if the child is in their care; or

    • everyone who has parental responsibility for the child.

Other people can make an application to the court for permission to issue an application for a child arrangements order. It is usually via this route that wider family members such as grandparents are able to apply for orders in respect of their grandchildren. In deciding whether to give permission the court will take into account, among other things:

  • the nature of the application;

  • the applicant’s connection with the child; and

  • the risk there might be of the proposed application disrupting the child’s life to such an extent that they would be harmed by it.

When a court considers any question relating to the upbringing of a child under the Children Act 1989 it must have regard to the welfare checklist set out in Section 1 of that Act. This requires the consideration of:

  • the ascertainable wishes and feelings of the child concerned (considered in light of their age and understanding);

  • their physical, emotional and/or educational needs;

  • the likely effect on them of any change in their circumstances;

  • their age, sex, background and any characteristics of theirs which the court considers relevant;

  • any harm which they have suffered or are at risk of suffering;

  • how capable each of their parents (and any other person the court considers the question to be relevant) is of meeting their needs; and

  • the range of powers available to the court in the proceedings.

The child’s welfare is the court’s paramount consideration for all proceedings under the Children Act 1989 when it considers a question of the child’s upbringing.

Just because someone makes an application does not mean it will be successful. If an application is made in relation to your child’s gender identity this should be explained to your legal representative immediately so they can access the expert assistance they may need.

Please note this answer does not constitute legal advice and should you need legal representation this should be sought directly. Please contact our helpline on 0344 334 0550 should you want to discuss your situation with our legal department.

When would the state apply to take my trans child away from me?

A local authority can make an application for an order to ‘safeguard the welfare’ of a child; these cases are usually referred to as public law cases.

There are a number of different orders that a local authority can apply for but the most common are care orders, supervision orders, emergency protection orders and secure accommodation orders.

For the state to make an application for any Order they have to have to be sure that they are able to illustrate that a child is suffering, or is likely to suffer, significant harm and that harm is attributable to the care given to the child at home.

In these proceedings, the child is automatically a party and is represented by a children’s guardian appointed by Cafcass. The children’s guardian is an independent person who is there to promote the child’s welfare and ensure that the arrangements made for the child are in his or her best interests. The guardian appoints a solicitor to act for the child. Occasionally the child and guardian will not agree on what is in the child’s interests and if the solicitor decides that the child is of sufficient age and understanding, the child will be able to instruct the solicitor.

Public funding (legal aid) is usually available for the parents to be represented in these proceedings.

Please note this answer does not constitute legal advice and should you need legal representation this should be sought directly. Please contact our helpline on 0344 334 0550 should you want to discuss your situation with our legal department.