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America’s Highest Paid Female CEO is Transgender, but That’s the Least Interesting Fact about Her

Rounding out this year’s top 10 highest paid CEOs is Martine Rothblatt, according to  The New York Times. The next woman on the list is Yahoo President and CEO Marissa A. Mayer, 24 slots below Rothblatt to be exact and earning roughly $13 million less. Only 11 females made the list of top 200 CEOs in 2014.

While this is a stunning achievement in the efforts to bridge the gender gap, Rothblatt confessed to New York Magazine, “I can’t claim that what I have achieved is equivalent to what a woman has achieved. For the first half of my life, I was male.”

Martine–formerly Martin–Rothblatt is a transgender woman, and that’s the least interesting thing about her. In 1994, Rothblatt underwent sex reassignment surgery to transition from male to female. While she prefers her family to call her Martine in public, her four children still call her Dad at home. (Their children call her Grand Martine.) It seems only fitting that her early success was in developing and implementing the satellite radio industry–Rothblatt’s vision has always seemed otherworldly to outsiders.

Rothblatt shifted her focus from satellite technology to life sciences when her youngest daughter Jenesis was diagnosed with a lethal disease, primary pulmonary hypertension. Like any good visionary, or parent for that matter, Rothblatt began looking for a cure. Unfortunately, there were only limited treatments for this rare disease, so she took her daughter’s fate into her own hands and developed United Therapeutics. This was no vanity effort: Rothblatt hired a staff to take a drug formerly unapproved by the FDA and create a treatment that would prolong and vastly improve the quality of Jenesis’ life and others suffering from similar diseases. Rothblatt now serves as CEO of United Therapeutics, and this mission to save her daughter landed her in the top 10 CEOs this year, now that the drug has received FDA approval.

This is only one of many advances under Rothblatt’s purview. She’s also working on ex-vivo transplantation, creating a stable supply line of porcine parts to forgo the need for a human organ transplant list altogether. She even received her helicopter license so that, when approved, she can transport organs as quickly as possible to terminally ill patients.

In addition to her wife of 33 years, Bina Aspen, and their four children, the Rothblatt family has another notable member: Bina48.

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  • Matthew Nicholson is an editor, playwright and stage manager based out of New York City. He received his BA from Sarah Lawrence College in dramatic improvisation and playwriting. Matthew has written television recaps and exclusives for HaveUHeard and Character Grades. Recently he has been working as a writer and producer for two new web series, It Takeis Two (starring George and Brad Takei) and New York Minutes. He’s a nationally published memoirist in a series of New York Times best-selling books, “It All Changed in an Instant.” While he’s accepted that his Hogwarts letter will never come, Matt still waits for Doctor Who’s TARDIS to appear.

    • Show Comments

    • jojoMonkey

      It’s bad form to post a trans woman’s “before” pictures without their express consent, just fyi.

      • pthalio

        If you look at the photo credit it says ‘courtesy of Martine Rothblatt & NYmag.com’ so it looks as though she gave them the photo. I would say that’s consent.

        • jojoMonkey

          I actually didn’t notice that! Thank you for pointing that out. 🙂

      • ben

        Its bad form to post any person’s pictures without consent.

    • Gideon Alvin White

      Dang I missed the before picture? I wanted to see what he looked like before he did this to himself

    • MyOwnBiggestFan

      Curious… why does it matter what SHE looked like before transitioning? She is who she is NOW and not just on the inside as before. Gender dysphoria is real. You know when you are not ‘who you are’ on the outside and it is a horrible and frightening life to live.

      • Allison Wanamaker

        It matters because the story is about how many female CEO’s are in the top 200. IT matters, because when she achieved her career status, she was male, and not subject to the gender discrimination that females face in the executive world. And it’s undeniable. Top 200 CEO’s,only 11 of them female, and the top female is actually trans. The next highest paid female CEO is number 34.

        • Jayne M Junemann

          yeah its relevant here only because the topic includes gender discrimination so the fact that she got on her way to the top as a male is relevant, but nothing else, her appearance as a man would come up if perhaps you wanted to get into a discussion about the influence of appearance on ability to move to the top, but even then you’d start much higher up on the list!

          • laq

            i was actually going to point that out .. her success as a CEO came when she was a man … so for a woman to make it she needs to start as a man? gee thanks world …. (yes that is sarcastic – i worked in tech and it’s hard for woman in tech)

            • andrea

              Why don’t you try to think of it this way (and, hi I’m a transwoman in tech, who transitioned last year).
              When we get to the other side of this, it’s very easy for us to see just how sexist the world is. It’s also AMAZING how kind the women in my workplace have been to me, as if they have welcomed me to “the other team.”
              It has inspired me to speak up as frequently as possible on the topic. It has inspired me to stick up for and help my female boss look as good as she can, because we understand we’re women in a man’s world. It’s inspired me to reach out to the ladies in my department and do everything I can to help them out, from my curious position.
              I have often said to others who have depended on my in the course of my 20-year career, you have to now realize everything I ever did came from the mind of a woman. So respect that!
              I feel like we have an opportunity, now, in this time, to push back on the gender gap because of what our transitions reveal, those of us who DO get to keep our jobs and don’t end up dead or homeless. I do what I can.

            • laq

              I agree 100% with what you are saying … just don’t go all “look how much money a woman can make in industry X” when it was made while she was a he.

              say “look at the amazing changes this woman is bringing to industry X, look at the amazing things she brings to the table…

              we still have gender pay gaps and she didn’t break any of those… she is forging an amazing path, and opening up door (hopefully) in the future but her pay as a CEO was as a male CEO and chances are she would not have made as much if she was a woman at the time … as salery seems to not about brains but body parts.

            • Katharynne Kelly

              Read the article. She had her surgery in 1994 and THIS YEAR she reached the Top 10 CEO listing. That means she reached that listing as a woman!

          • MyOwnBiggestFan

            So… knowing what she looked like before transition makes a difference HOW when she owned the company?

        • christabel6

          It’s also relevant that by the time she transitioned she was CEO of her own company making it rather difficult for her to be sacked. Lots of trans women are not so fortunate.

          • MyOwnBiggestFan

            So… it matters what she looked like? I’m not questioning ANY other part of the story.

            • Artemis

              I see no picture of her prior to her change, and it is never referenced in the article. Please give a quote to show what you are arguing against in this article.

            • MyOwnBiggestFan

              I am referencing the people in the comments. NOT the article. For some reason people seem concerned with what she looked like before…

            • Allison Wanamaker

              No, I don’t think it matters what she looked like, outside of the topic of gender discrimination. I Was in the same boat as Artemis, with no clue what you were referencing, since you decided to open your own thread instead of replying to someone. I misunderstood your intent, because Your comment is the first one I saw.

        • MyOwnBiggestFan

          So… it matters what she looked like? Not questioning ANY other part of the story.

      • Laronda Tarmony

        Cause that is all that matters , your not trans if you do not bring up the fact you were a man. IT is one of the things that pissess me off the most.Oh were a Woman, but were not gonna let you gor get that 1 we are a Trans woman 2 that I once had a penis. If you are a woman then you are a woman. The only person who need to know you are a fucking trans person is your spouse/ significant Other

        • MyOwnBiggestFan

          Being in the public eye for her achievements (even if it were before transition) is going to draw attention from the media. Then, they are going to dig to the depths of the Earth to find out the dirt on someone and ‘out’ them if at all possible (Take a look at why Gawker Media in the news today). Of course the news outlets are going to mention it… It SELLS! I am sure that when it first happened, it wasn’t mentioned at all.

      • mnemonicmike

        Some people are just whacked out. All the excuses for why they’re whacked out are a waste of time. Why should I be bothered and forced to ‘have feelings’ about someone who is basically not a normal human being? You worry about ’em. I have a life to live.

        • Jinoh

          Why do you then “waste your time” 1) reading the article, 2) logging in to Discus, and 3) posting a comment. You must be really whacked out yourself. Hey, didn’t they say “takes one to know one?” LOL. What an idiot

          • El Capo

            if you view transgender people as abnormal in a negative way, shouldn’t you be even more nice to them? If you believe that it should qualify as a mental illness, shouldn’t that motivate you to be kind? Or do you hate people with autism, schizophrenia, and depression, as well?

            • El Capo

              Responding to wrong comment lol.

        • andrea

          I pity the likes of you. You aren’t being forced to do anything.
          All you would need to do, is treat us like any other human being, and respect our identities.
          I pity you because yes, you are “normal.” Unimaginative. Frightened of that which is different. Closing yourself off from the true wonder of the world. I didn’t want this, resisted it mightily. But when I accepted it I realized I was going to have an amazing adventure, and I was absolutely right. It was, and is, a truly transcendental experience.
          It’s too bad you can’t feel what I have felt. You would have to live with hideous depression and pain beforehand, but the release, the discovery of self, that part is purely glorious. Like nothing I have ever experienced, or will again.
          So, go live your normal life. Just try to have some basic decency when you meet those of us who will never, ever know what that means. We only do what we are made to do, and we do the best we can.

      • David Carltock

        If anyone in the comments is focusing on the way she ‘ used to look ‘, they’re idiots, and should just be ignored.

        I think it’s pretty obvious that men have the upper hand in society. Not just business, but in all aspects of American life. Here’s an example from less than 50 years in the past: when I was 11, my mother could not get a credit card without her husband’s approval. That may seem ridiculous in today’s world, but it was still a fact. The overall implications of this is still felt today, where women make an average of 70% less than a man for doing the same job.

        There are social advantages to being male, even a gay male. I don’t think that this should be the case, and I’m sure there are many men like myself who want this discrimination to end. But just because I don’t like something doesn’t make it not true.

        Ms. Rothblatt is acknowledging this fact, Ms. Rothblatt is saying that being male was wrong for her, but she recognizes the advantages she had at that time, and the lack of those advantages when she transitioned; and how that made a difference in her life experience compared to a cisgender woman.

        What does she look like to me? A woman who is now comfortable in her own skin, and very successful. And she’s honest about what she’s experienced in life. A trans person must go through many things that I couldn’t even imagine as a cisgender male; but at the end of the day, they’re still human, no matter what their gender is. And that’s what makes Ms. Rothblatt a great role model. Be true to yourself, she seems to be saying, and you’ll be able to do anything.

        • MyOwnBiggestFan


    • Shine

      did any of you actually read the article? that company is doing some weird-ass shit with mindfiles and immortality… forget about her gender change, this company is dangerous. 🙁

      • Jane Northrop

        Not sure why you say this but …. this company United Therapeutics keeps my daughter alive with the medications that they have on the market to treat Pulmonary Hypertension.

        • Shine

          did you read it?

          • Jane Northrop

            Yes I did….. I am only concerned with the medication that her company manufactures that keeps my daughter alive. It is sad that the focus of this article should be on her accomplishments and what she has done in the pulmonary hypertension community and all the comments I see are about Bina48 and the fact that she is transgender.

      • Jinoh

        Shine, tinfoil for your hat has arrived.

    • cetude

      Just another fly in the ointment WW III is around the corner. Thank God.

      • Robert Brant

        That is one ridiculous leap there.

        • lovitar

          I wouldn’t pay them any mind. Anybody who is a cheerleader for a third world war isn’t likely to be capable of rational thought.

    • Janine Lea

      If the fact that she is transgender the “Least” important part about her, WHY was that fact in the heading of the article?

    • ThaddeusQuackenbush

      The story should have explained that Bina48 is a robot of Bina Aspen.

      • Braided River Floral

        thanks– I was still looking for that

      • MaeBeaBaby

        Are you being funny? Because I came up with robot and a whole string of other possibilities. 🙂

    • Moose

      If the fact that she is transgendered is the “the least interesting fact about her” why does it even have to be brought up?

      • Torey Morton

        Because in today’s society, genders are now being redefined as non-binary. This article helps brings people to openly discuss transgendered people without negative connotation. When I was growing up, I remember hearing about transgendered people as freaks of nature, however, we see these successful people coming out or being brought up in articles like these. It reminds us that people don’t have to be constricted to social norms to be successful. The headline may seem like a sensationalist click-baitesque title, but it’s just there to remind us that there is more to someone than what they identify as.

    • knatily

      That’s actually “xenotransplanation,” not “ex vivo” transplantation, if it’s cross-species.

    • Lucy

      Rothblatt may be trans but she is still ‘male’ as that is an absolutely unchangeable biological fact. She may have been restructured physically, and she may take hormones and look feminine, but you cannot change sex, only your presentation. Male or female … you’re stuck with that. You really can’t identify your way out of biology. People need to get the terminology right. Sex (fe/male) is biology and gender (feminine/masculine) is social. Simple.

      • Jinoh

        You ain’t all that bright are you Lucy? Actually, biology dictated that she’s always been a woman, but needed surgery to help her body catch up with that fact. That she is, and always has been a woman is an immutable fact.

        • El Capo

          To be clear. Gender is social because it is performative: that is to say, gender is dependent on actions. That one’s gender identity is generally biological does not make gender any less, any more than the fact that biology often determines depression any less psychological. Otherwise, how would we have room for the various shades of gender-nonconforming individuals? Somehow I doubt that each individual gradation has a precise biological antecedent, but I am certainly willing to accept them as genders.

        • El Capo

          It is also clear that gender has a social meaning from this consideration: not all transgender individuals even go through a surgical transition. For the transgender individual who chooses not to undergo surgery or hormone treatment, or who has not yet begun to do so, what separates them from cisgendered instances of their sex, except their actions, and perhaps the desire to present as the opposite sex, or to undergo transition procedures. Now, at the individual level, does it really matter whether this desire is directly the result of biology, due to specific genes, or the result of socialization? I think not. The morality of an action does not depend on its genesis. But I digress: it is clear that gender is a psychological state, with social presentations and strong biological influences. The social presentations, or markers of what gender is, differ from society to society, or from subculture to subculture. So gender can legitimately be described as social, psychological, and (in most instances) biological. On the other hand, sex is a genetic characteristic, and thus purely biological. So distinguishing sex and gender on the grounds that one is social, while incomplete, is perfectly legitimate. Incidentally, I favor the definition of at least eight different sexes: X0, XX, XY, XXX, XXXX, XXXXX, XXY, and XXXY. I consider mosaics composite sexes, and not needful of their own classification.

      • andrea

        Bzzt. You are incorrect Lucy.

        • El Capo

          On the contrary. The distinction between sex and gender is rather important, and will be even more so if (when?) full biological sex changes become possible. The definition Lucy used is actually the exact one used by researchers on transgender biology and sociology, which is why people refer to “gender identity” rather than “sex” identity. Even if you, for some reason, did not want to use the entirely standard and non-bigoted vocabulary of gender theory, you still would need another word to represent the difference between genetics and (biologically influenced) gender identity.

          • cyberspice

            How do describe those with androgen insensitivity. Women with no uterus and undescended testicles but also a vagina?

            • Devian

              People with intersex conditions, or just “intersex.” There’s also the non-binary genderqueer, bigender, and agender.

            • El Capo

              That’s a good question. If I were asked what their sex was, I would refer to them as being XX (colloquially called female). If someone asked me whether they were a man or a woman, I would use their personal gender preference. Easy-peasy.

            • El Capo

              Defining sex based on external physical characteristics, while perfectly legitimate, has the problem of not being discrete, and thus difficult to characterize. By contrast, using chromosomes as the measure of sex ensures that everyone falls into one of several categories (barring mosaicism, which can simply be considered multiple sexes anyway). By the standard measure, there are two sexes, but I prefer to recognize eight.

      • El Capo

        Though, it is legitimate to refer to someone as male if that is their (social) gender.

      • cyberspice

        Wrong! There’s plenty of people who are born neither male nor female. I suppose you go around calling Androgen Insensitive Women, Men. What about those with Klinefelters? There there’s the research in the Netherlands that shows the physical brain differences between neurotypical ‘men’ and ‘women’ and also there in trans men and trans women suggesting there is a biological cause.

    • hobocamp

      Wana be a top paid ceo? Well you better be a man first honey

      • Jinoh

        Or, be brilliant and start your own company. Your copping to excuses for your own mediocrity hobocamp.

      • Schlenry Rutherford

        Wanna be a top paid pornstar? Biggest industry in the world, notoriously underpays men…

    • MaeBeaBaby

      It is an interesting article and nicely done enough, but I’m most interested in who Bina48 is.

      Is Bina48 an android, a pet, another child, adopted friend or relative, or an adult member of a poly relationship? Such a strange and nebulous last remark for the article to make.

      • Shine

        there is a video, showing ‘Bina48, in action..supposedly AI (artificial intelligence) created by using a ‘mindfile’ of his? her wife…

    • Jinoh


    • andrea

      Calling a human being “it” is immensely disrespectful and bigoted.
      Nothing else you say is of any importance.

      • El Capo

        I don’t like that terminology either, but “Nothing else you say is of any importance” seems a bit premature. For example, the point about using the word “transgender woman” in the article is actually something I agree with. Without that, the article is a little confusing.

      • cronosdebbie

        i decided put the word “IT” instead of “her” just to fish out the very easily offended bleeding hearts like yourself andrea…. that alone must have bothered you to the point that you could not even comprehend my post!

    • deb

      I hope she can ex-vivo and porcine .And no longer need human organ transplants. That would save a lot of people lifes.

    • Don Rorke

      I actually found some of these comments boring, some of them slightly misslead. I found the people who said she, is always going to male “boring”, those people can go away and find another way to make themselves feel perfect in their own eyes.

      Now to mislead posters, I think what Martine is saying she is human, the reason she became CEO of this company, is she cared about her family. ( Also do people actually know how much a CEO makes, Start up a company, be the driving force behide it for years you our the CEO “Company Excutive Officer” your company makes no money so do you. ) now back to the subject, and again I’m only suggesting what this might mean.

      I’m female it works for me and works against at the best of times, I work as a TV producer, I can get the team/crew to believe in a focused production. I can also the tiny details of emotions that make a piece of television important to everyone else. I’m very lucky I have a very unique brain to multi task and see the larger as well as the smallest details. That’s what makes me a great producer, maybe one day I will be CEO of my own company. The thing is I was born with male organs, everyone I know in my industry, knows I’m female but look male, and in fairness, I’m terrified of tranistioning, why? Because of comments on here

      I think Martine should be considered a great CEO, because her work deals with humanities dealing as humans. I think that is what being said is forget your gender wars/roles follow your heart, and make you count without being bitter.

    • SeattleJo

      The article could be 5 pages long on satellite radio transmission. This is a genius and humanitarian. Go to Wikipedia and read more. I beg Hollywood to write a script on Martine. This is a life worth following. I do not want to wait 50 years for this film.

    • charlie

      It’s completely messed up to use a trans person’s former name for any reason without their explicit consent, the fact that her first name use to be martin is irrelevant, i’m sick of this

    • Karin

      Wow what an impressive woman