Butterfly, Labels, Transgender and Bullies

This post is probably going to be a long one, but if you can bear with me and make it to the end, I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

This post is a bit of a random mash of thoughts I’ve had this week, but somehow they’re all closely related. Stick with it!


My husband and I recently watched the ITV drama, Butterfly.

Image source

Butterfly follows the journey of 11 year old Max who reveals to his family that he has Gender Identification Disorder. Put simply, Max was born a boy, but he feels that his true gender is female.

Max wishes to transition into a female. His mum, Vicki, played by Anna Friel, is supportive of Max, but having had no experience of this before, she struggles to know what to do for the best.

Max’s dad, Stephen, played by Emmett J. Scanlan, openly admits that he struggles with Max’s identity as a female. This sees Stephen leave the family home, and his relationship with both Max and Vicki is severely tested.

First off, I want to say that I think ITV did a fantastic job in approaching this subject. It’s not something that many people are aware of, and I think raising this issue is important.

Whilst many parents would naturally struggle with the idea of their child wanting to transition, I think ITV were right to show both sides of how parents can feel in this situation.

Vicki was absolutely desperate to support her child, to do the right thing, and even though her actions meant Max was temporarily removed from her care, the audience always knew that Vicki was on Max’s side and was just trying to do the right thing for him.

Stephen on the other hand was dealing with grief. The loss of a son. By accepting that Max wanted to become Maxine, he was effectively loosing his son. In the early days Max would only ever be Maxine at home with his mum, and when with his dad, Max would wear boys clothes and play football with his dad.

It’s a really tender subject, especially at just 11 years old, but I think it was dealt with well and shows the audience that this is a reality for many parents, and at the end of the day Max is still a human being with feelings just like the rest of us, so why shouldn’t he transition into his true self?

(For support on this, visit the Mermaids UK website)


Earlier this week, my husband wrote a blog post called Little Things Annoy Me: Here is One Such Situation.

The gist of the post is that when my husband and I took our twin girls shopping we had to buy clothes for one of our girls in the boys section.

Now, our twins are very different. M is very girly, loves to wear dresses and play with Barbie dolls. R is less girly and would rather wear a Star Wars jumper with jeans and play with superhero figures.

Absolutely nothing wrong with that at all. However, R does prefer to wear typically what many would call ‘boys clothes’. As such we tend to buy her clothes in the boys section.

The thing that annoyed my husband wasn’t just that the girls clothing department severely lacked clothes any other colour than pink, it was also the fact that inside the Christmas jumper R had chosen, the label said ‘Urban Boys’.

Now this jumper, pictured above, was in the boys section. Firstly I do question why it couldn’t have gone into the girls section as well. I mean it’s just a blue jumper with Santa and a dinosaur on. Should girls not wear blue or like dinosaurs?

Anyway, what my husband was saying is that he’d like to banish girls and boys sections in shops, and just have one kids section. John Lewis is one such shop that has actually got rid of boys and girls labels in their clothing, and have also done away with the separate sections in stores.

Quoting information from this article in the Independent, John Lewis said:

“The clothing style hasn’t changed – you’ll still find floral dresses and skirts, but the retailer is simply proving the point that they can be worn by both girls and boys.

They’ve also launched a new unisex clothing line for children, featuring dinosaur print dresses and spaceship tops.

Caroline Bettis, the head of childrenswear at John Lewis, said: “We do not want to reinforce gender stereotypes within our John Lewis collections and instead want to provide greater choice and variety to our customers, so that the parent or child can choose what they would like to wear.”

Personally I think is great news. Children have enough to deal with without having gender stereotypes forced upon them. Many girls grow up believing they should wear pink, they should wear dresses and pretty high heels, that they should be delicate and fragile, while many boys believe they should never cry, show emotion or be weak. This is just reinforced in some shops that only ever stock pink for girls and blue for boys etc.

Not everyone will agree with this, and I accept that. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but don’t be a d*ck about it.

Just because this issue isn’t relevant to you, doesn’t mean that it’s irrelevant to everyone. For us, it’s a topic that’s actually quite important. As I’ve already mentioned our twin girls have different tastes, and for me it’s about teaching them that they don’t have to fall in line with gender stereotypes. Just because you’re a girl doesn’t mean you have to wear the pink, frilly clothes in the girls section, and just because you’re a boy doesn’t mean you have to wear the typical blue clothes in the boys section.


This moves me onto bullying.

I accept that some people will think that those who want to get rid of boys and girls sections in shops are considered to be ‘snowflakes’. Someone who is perceived to be over-emotional and easily offended. Again I accept that everyone is entitled to their opinion.

You could look at the other end of the spectrum and say that those who are opposed to one giant kids section instead of separate boys and girls sections could be considered narrow minded, oppressive and ‘old fashioned’, possibly sending a generation of children back in time to where women stay home and men go to work.

However, what I don’t accept is bullying. Regardless of your opinion of someone else’s opinion, try to act like a grown up.

Just because you don’t agree with someone else’s opinion doesn’t give you the right to bully them. Yes, I’m talking about a specific blogger, his followers and their ‘mob mentality’ attitude.

One person gets riled up at another persons opinion, and their followers go along with it, seemingly to impress or ‘stay on side’ with the blogger opposing their opinion.

This person is well known as a troll, and a bully, and if I’m honest, I just don’t understand why they’re like this, why they’ve taken a disliking to my husband, amongst many, many other bloggers, and why they feel the need to just be a downright unpleasant person.

Not only that, but this person really needs to look at themselves in the mirror and ask why so many people are calling them a bully. If one person calls you a bully, then perhaps they’re being over-sensitive, but when multiple people repeatedly call you a bully, I really think you need to take a good, hard look at yourself, your actions and the way you behave.

In addition I have to say that this person knows nothing about my husband, nor me and our family. It’s just their perception of us. They’ve never met us in real life, and as such they no nothing about us, what we’ve been through and endured, and they never will. However, they really do need to think carefully about their actions. Bullying in any form has serious implications on peoples mental health.

I’m the kind of person who tries to look on the bright side. To be positive, to be kind to others, to be rational and show empathy. Life is too short to bash one another, trust me, I know, (just read this post when it’s published in two days time, entitled ‘Growing Old is a Privilege denied to many’.)

They won’t change. They never will, and personally I don’t care because as the old saying goes, what goes around, comes around.

What do you think? 

15 thoughts on “Butterfly, Labels, Transgender and Bullies

  1. I don’t think there should get rid of the sections in shops personally. But I do agree with that there should be more to choose from for both boys and girls. Boys sections in shops are rubbish. The ratio is probably 80-20. And that I don’t like.

  2. Great post Emily. I know who you are refering to in terms of trolling and bullying. I like to that person in the same way I treat my dog – positive reinforcement. It’s how I train my dog, we ignore the behaviour we don’t want and reward that which we do. It works great with dogs (and kids to some extent ;-)). The trouble comes when there’s nothing good to reward, and as yet there’s been nothing good with this person to which I could apply a reward.

    I would say your comments on gender-specific clothing for kids are spot on. I would also say that shops do departmentalise to keep things organised for shoppers etc etc. But I see your point about the labelling inside the clothes – no need.

    However, when you wrote:

    “Now, our twins are very different. M is very girly, loves to wear dresses and play with Barbie dolls….”

    I did question whether this is also gender stereotyping? For me, saying that being girly is wearing dresses and playing Barbie would be a no-no.


  3. I agree with much of this. I wonder how it would work having non-gendered clothes, along side boys and girls..? Surely that’s just stereotyping further. Maybe as we learn that humans are a spectrum of gender identities that we let go of traditional groups and start putting kids clothes into groups of colours, for example. If you identify with wearing orange – whether it has a dinosaur or a dolly in front your kid can decide if they like it. For fits – perhaps traditionally boy style looser fits can be called ‘baggy’ and girl cuts can be called ‘slim-fit’. No decision will please everyone though, but it is time to rethink… xx

  4. Terrific post Emily … agree about the seriousness of the implication for this seemingly harmless gender stereotyping in clothes shops, and other places, and also the horrors of bullying. I have written about it before, and how it can affect anyone. #ThatFridayLinky

  5. Oh my word Emily, so much in one blog post, where to start! I’m not familair with Butterflies but it does sound like a fascinating drame. As for clothes labelling, I see a lot of bad practice. I do, nonetheless, worry when I see clothing chains saying they’re going to sell unisex clothes. It’s one thing to do away with stereotypical pinks and blues and diggers and footballs for bots, fairies and rainbows for girls. Quite another if you start ignoring body shapes and the fact boys and girls are physically different. As for who is causing your husband grief, wasn’t aware of it and I am happy being blissfully ignorant of such idiots!. Thanks for hosting #thatfridaylinky

  6. I agree with the whole label thing is just rediciuolous. Let kids be kids I say and let them chose what they like. Both my boys chose to wear dresses to school and I can tell you now after the initial omg the kids accepted it and just carried on. Oh yes the people who have a problem with it is some parents and professionals. Says it all really X #thatfridaylinky

  7. Hi, I think that separate clothes sections should stay. However, so many items don’t need to be gender specific and can be in a separate section #thatfridaylinky

  8. I can’t bear the term snowflake, it implies a vulnerability and weakness to me. Being caring and compassionate does not make you a snowflake.
    My kids are all older now but they used to get especially annoyed with the packaging and promotion of toys; “boys get all the cool stuff and girls just get a load of glitter and beads! ”
    Some brands have worked hard on this I think but every now and again you see something that feels like it’s from the 1950’s.
    I think a children’s clothing section could be just that, a children’s section, divided by age. Kids and their parents can then pick freely from the selection available without stigma or worrying if they like something from the ‘wrong’ section. #thatfridaylinky

  9. Interesting post and now I’m wondering about ‘that’ blogger! Sorry to hear Nige is being targeted though that’s .horrid.
    Clothes…there was a campaign when my daughter was growing up called ‘pink stinks’ which was the start of the ‘too much pink clothing’ for girls. My daughter didn’t like pink and wanted green clothes but it was tricky to find things she liked. I don’t like labelling for children -you are not good at maths OR you are a tomboy etc. Children should be children regardless of what they like at that very moment. I totally agree with your battle buying clothing; it’s so stupid that this great Christmas jumper was labelled a ‘boys’ jumper. I’m not heavily into gender neutral as I think that some children want pink and sparkly! but I think CHOICE is the important thing here.
    Thanks for the post. #thatfridaylinky

  10. I hadn’t heard the term ‘snowflake’ until I recently read a post on FB about a male being pregnant. The comments were pretty narrow minded and cruel. It seems that this is an ongoing issue.
    I am in complete agreement that girls and boys shouldn’t be stereotyped with clothing and there isn’t a need to stitch in labels that say boys or girls.
    I’ve never been completely sure about removing the sections as when children get older there will be womans and mens clothes and it’s more to fit than anything but then it wouldn’t be a problem if they just had ‘clothes’ shops with no departments, as long as the clothes fit me well…
    Bullying I hate! Cannot stand it and really think that people need to take a long hard look at themselves if causing someone pain gives them joy! #ThatFridayLinky

  11. A lot here Emily! for the Butterfly program, it sounds really good and worth watching. I know it sounds mean, but I can’t help but get annoyed at the dad in the show based on your description though. Yes, he has issues, but sounds like he somehow let his issues spill over on his kid’s life and cause them real harm. What a loser. Dads (as all parents) don’t have a right to choose who their kids become, but they do have the right and obligation to love their kids and look after them. Mums aren’t given an opt-out, neither should dads be. But that’s what good drama does, it makes you think!

    As for the clothes, it’s something that really bugged me as well when we were in the UK. I always found it weird that rather than splitting the kids sections up into clothes types ‘pyjamas’ or ‘coats’, it was somehow seen as more important to split the clothes between genders… From a stereotyping perspective that’s annoying, but also it’s pretty inconvenient if you wanna look at all the pyjamas! and it means there is just less choice of the non-extreme types. Eveything’s bright pink unicorn-princess this or lazer-trucks with shark-teeth that. Where are the pyjamas with squirrels or ABC on? Companies argue that ‘this is just what parents want’, but this is pretty cowardly. If they changed it a little, parents wouldn’t complain, they’d just adapt (and maybe even get to see a wider ranger of clothes for their kids!). You’re not alone!

    added you as my #blogcrush this week

  12. Something that I often rant about as well. My daughter does a lot of her shopping in the “boys section” as well. I hate how early in their lives they are already being pushed into these little boxes of who they are supposed to be. Its time society just let everyone be who they are. #thatfridaylinky

  13. When will culture/society/people just let people be who they are? As long as you are kind to yourself and others, WHO CARES! I love this post and I hate to see when everyone is tucked away in tidy little gender-specific boxes. We are all people. We all bleed and we all experience pain. Let’s share some kindness and compassion and give up the stereotypical bullshit. Life is hard enough. Like Winnie the Pooh says, Just Be. #blogcrush xoxo

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