Stories and Viewpoints
Voices of Viatris
November 21, 2022
By: Niki Kapsambelis
As an older brother, Matheus Marinho has always felt a sense of responsibility toward his siblings. So when his younger brother, Pietro, came out as transgender two years ago, Matheus’ instinct to protect him from potential discrimination kicked into high gear.
“At first, I was scared and worried at the same time,” said Matheus, a contractor who works with Viatris’ marketing team in São Paulo, Brazil. “I was just concerned about how people would treat him, how my family would take this information, how to deal with the transition, where to start.”
Pietro began life as Matheus’ sister and now is in the process of transitioning, something that Matheus – who is himself a member of the LGBTQ+ community – didn’t fully understand. He had so many questions: are you no longer my sister? What pronouns should I use? How will the rest of our family be affected?
“I was kind of lost and confused, because I wanted to be supportive, but I had no idea on how to,” Matheus admitted. “And I needed to assimilate what was happening at the moment: How could I be helpful in this process?”
He began to research the topic, speaking with mental health professionals and seeking out information from a variety of sources, including Pietro himself. Though they are six years apart in age, and had not always been close, their bond is strengthening. Earlier this year, Matheus surprised his brother by joining him at a trans-specific parade that was part of the city’s Pride celebration.
As part of VIVID, Viatris’ Employee Resource Group (ERG) for members and allies of the LGBTQ+ community, Matheus is encouraged by the company’s efforts to create a welcoming environment and provide resources for relevant issues. Oftentimes, transgender people don’t get enough support from their families, and having a group like VIVID at work can prove incredibly valuable, Matheus said.
Likewise, the ERG helps all employees learn more about supporting their colleagues and access guidance for other situations as they arise, such as having a nonbinary child or answering children’s questions about LGBTQ+ issues.
“I believe that knowledge and respect will always be the key to live life better; to make the environment, no matter where, safer; making people comfortable to be who they want to be, who they’re meant to be,” Matheus said. “And I’m glad I’m having the opportunity to bring this to the company.”
Matheus, who has shared his own struggles as a gay man with his brother, believes part of him will always worry for Pietro: “I was guided all the time by the feeling that he wouldn’t make it. That he would give up – like, give up on life,” Matheus said. Transitioning is “a really lonely process. Only the person who’s been through it knows how difficult it is.”
However, he is encouraged by how strong his brother is and how he is starting to gain acceptance within the family.
"This is part of who I am, so fighting homophobia is something that belongs to me. I want to be respected," Matheus said. "But now I have another fight, which is (to) protect and respect people like my brother."