Top-paid Female CEO in the U.S. Is Martine - Formerly Martin - Rothblatt

Leader of Maryland drugmaker grew up in observant Jewish home, helped found Sirius service, and is now building a transreligion, profile says.

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She's not the first name you'll think of when the topic "woman chief executive" comes up. More likely Marissa Meyer, of Yahoo, and Meg Whitman, of Hewlett-Packard, will come to mind.

But Martine Rothblatt, the 59-year-old CEO of United Therapeutics, has something that sets her apart from these boldface executive names – with compensation of $38 million, she's the highest paid female CEO in the U.S.

And one more thing, a New York magazine profile points out: She was born male.

She was born Martin Rothblatt, to a religious San Diego couple. They were the only Jews in a Hispanic neighborhood, and the boy sought out acquaintances unlike his own family, the article says.

Her mother says that Martin read a lot. Martine told the profile's author, Lisa Miller, that Leon Uris's "Exodus," Isaac Asimov's books and "Black Like Me" from John Howard Griffin were important to her when she was younger.

Today, she runs United Therapeutics, a publicly traded pharmaceutical firm in Silver Spring, Md. She's an attorney; her previous tenure was as a founder of the satellite-radio-service provider Sirius. She holds an honorary doctorate from Israel's Ben-Gurion University of the Negev.

She's married 33 years to an African woman, who remained Martine's wife after she changed gender in 1994. They've got four kids.

The couple in 2004 founded what they call a transreligion, called Terasem, described on the website as devoted to “respecting diversity without sacrificing unity."

Judaism "is the prototype, even the template, of transhumanism,” Martine says, explaining Terasem in an e-mail to the author.

“I realize there’s a zillion flavors of Judaism, but what I got taught is that it is all about education, about being ‘people of the book,’ because when oppressors kept taking everything away from the Jews, they could not take away the knowledge stored in their heads. (Nazis made a good run at that:-( ).” 

Transgender Jews celebrate Shabbat at a California synagogue. (Courtesy of the Forward.)