In its latest issue, New York magazine has profiled Martine Rothblatt, the highest paid female CEO in America. In her comprehensive profile of the pharma tycoon, Lisa Miller has shown that Rothblatt is a complex and multifaceted woman. The 59-year-old business woman, transwoman, futurist, author, space lawyer, parent, and romantic is one of the business world’s most fascinating figures. Here are four things you must know about Martine Rothblatt:
1. She knows a business opportunity when she sees it.
Rothblatt grew up in a working class suburb of San Diego. After dropping out of UCLA, Rothblatt was inspired by an Air Force satellite dish. “It was like we stepped into the future,” Martine says. She—then Martin Rothblatt—re-enrolled at UCLA and would became an expert in space law. Rothblatt would go onto found Sirius Radio in 1990.
After his youngest child was diagnosed with pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH),a rare and fatal disease, in 1991, Rothblatt devoted himself to finding away to treat and cure the illness. He tracked down a doctor who worked on a treatment for PAH and founded the pharma company now known as United Therapeutics in 1996. The company’s worth $5 billion. Martine earned $38 million last year.
2. She’s a family woman.
Not only is Martine a brilliant business woman, she’s devoted to her family. Rothblatt married her wife, Bina, 33 years ago when she was still a man. Each had a child from a previous relationship and the pair would have two children together. Bina supported Martine during her transition and says that she’s “Martine-sexual”—that is Martine’s the only person that Bina wants. “I saw Bina sitting over there, and I just felt an enormous attraction to her and just walked over and asked her to dance,” Martine tells the magazine. “And she agreed to dance. We danced, we sat down, talked, and we’ve been together ever since.”
3. She has her own way of constructing gender and identity.
Martine has a set of pronouns and prefixes all her own. She likes “Pn.” for “person” rather than the traditional “Mr. or “Ms.” and uses “spice” to mean spouse. That being said she likes the “trans,” but Martine is “trans” many things.
“These days Martine sees herself less as transgender and more as what is known as transhumanist, a particular kind of futurist who believes that technology can liberate humans from the limits of their biology—including infertility, cancer, and disease, but also, incredibly, death,” writes Miller.
In 1995, soon after her transition, Rothblatt published The Apartheid of Sex, which encapsulated her views on gender, sexuality, and identity. “There are five billion people in the world and five billion unique sexual identities,” she wrote. “Genitals are as irrelevant to one’s role in society as skin tone. Hence, the legal division of people into males and females is as wrong as the legal division of people into black and white races.” Martine suggested positioning gender and sexuality on a spectrum.
4. She has some radical and possibly revolutionary ideas about science.
As a transhumanist, Martine believes that with technology, humanity will be able to improve on our own biology.
“She believes in a foreseeable future in which the beloved dead will live again as robots, reanimated by sophisticated artificial-intelligence programs that will be as cheap and accessible to every person as iTunes,” Miller writes. Martine has even created a “mindclone,” a sort of artificially intelligent digital replica, of her wife Bina. She’s called it Bina48.
Martine and Bina have event started a “trans religion” based on transhumanism. Called, Terasem, the creed is based on four pillars: (1) Life is purposeful. (2) Death is optional. (3) God is technological. And (4) Love is essential.
You can read Lisa Miller's full profile—and you should—in New York magazine.