Translated interviews and mainstream media stories series: “Sister Courage”

BY WAY OF INTRODUCTION: I have been translating (from Portuguese) some of the interviews and stories written about me in the past five years, as well as producing summaries about the videos recorded with some longer interviews. These translations were a requirement for a professional project. It has been hard work. Most of the original texts have style problems in Portuguese, make extensive use of imagery, metaphors and colloquialisms. Some phrases make no sense. The few arguments are not logically constructed. Interviews that took over four hours, sometimes even more than one day, were edited in such a manner that my words frequently sound out of context. Translating these texts has been more than hard: it has been pretty unpleasant. One of the most uncomfortable common features is that even when the whole story is about me (that’s the case with all the stories in this series), the title highlights my famous transgender brother, Laerte Coutinho. This is journalistic sensationalism and opportunism, to say the least. More than that, it is a disrespect with the reader and with the subject of the interview (me). There were worse stories than the ones published here, but those I ignored. I decided to post these on my blog chiefly because they reflect the moment when the media found my suicide story an interesting ornament to the big hype of the moment: Laerte’s coming out as a cross-dresser. Soon they realized that the suicide led back to horrific aspects of Brazilian political power: rape, abuse, brainwashing, physical and psychological torture within the leftist organizations. The stories about me stopped. I became “untouchable” and received more than one threat, including one with a sub-text of execution.

Enjoy – if you can.

  1. Sister Courage
  2. She’s got the strength
  3. Lifter controls bipolar disorder
  4. The body as a stranger
  5. Marilia defends bodybuilding
  6. Science and free form exercise
  7. Marilia’s brother’s breasts


Translation of the article “Irmã coragem”, by Paulo Lima, published by “Isto É” magazine on February 2011.

Sister Courage


By Paulo Lima, February 2011


The body is a temple where miracles can happen. A sane mind in a sane body. If you still have any doubts about these proverbs you should learn Marilia Coutinho’s story.


Some people say that the good reporter is always looking in the opposite direction of the light beam. While the media and its consumers were still trying to manage their ghosts and prejudice with the intriguing figure of Laerte, the acclaimed cartoon artist who suddenly came out of a different and little known closet, revealing his option of dressing, making up and hairdressing as a woman, Bruno Torturra, then special reporter and now managing editor at Trip, knocked on a door far from there. This journalist was one of the first to capture the accounts and write about Laerte, who, with absolute perspicacity and elegance, has been delicately confronting conventions and challenging the limits between the genders and widening our perception concerning the diversity of our sexual behaviors, preferences and orientations. Torturra was one of the first to collect Laerte’s accounts and write about his attitude. He then decided to follow leads that pointed to a character connected the cartoon artist, one much less famous but not less unusual and interesting. After some research, Bruno reached an intellectual – biologist, doctor in sociology of science, educated in the country’s best universities. Marilia Coutinho, today 47 years old, was forced to quit her sport at age 15 to become a member of clandestine leftist organizations that fought against the dictatorship. Because of the violence and rape she suffered then, symptoms of a mental illness aggravated and she started having deeply depressive episodes and experience unbearable crises. As a consequence of her psychological state, in the peak of her suffering, after sinking into over-medication, she reached a point where she attempted suicide by slashing her throat. Marilia was saved by a passer-by who had the initiative and courage to help her and prevent her death. Talking to her, however, Bruno found out that the real reason for her resurrection may have been the rediscovery of her strength and her integrity through sports. Marilia started this journey when she found a weight training gym at the Paraisópolis slum in São Paulo. There she got in touch with the pleasure of strength training. About a year later, combining her will to live again and her considerable intellectual background and scientific knowledge, she became National champion in powerlifting in her division. She achieved much more than this, however. She accumulated great knowledge about the body and mind potential and not to dissociate these dimensions of our existence anymore. She learned that by experiencing in her own flesh the human ability to overcome, besides other heavyweight wisdom. Today, much happier, away from the medication and crises, she is ready to publish three books and to participate, in November, in her first world powerlifting championship, the sport she embraced and which embraced her.

An important detail about Marilia Coutinho: she is Laerte’s youngest sister.


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