The Highest-Paid Female CEO in America Was Born Male

Martine Rothblatt, who founded Sirius Satellite Radio and currently leads United Therapeutics, a pharmaceutical company, took home a cool $38 million last year.

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By Geoff Weiss • Sep 8, 2014

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

This certainly throws a wrench into the age-old gender wage gap debate: the highest-paid female CEO in America right now is 59-year-old Martine Rothblatt -- who was born a male.

Rothblatt, who underwent gender reassignment surgery in 1994, is most famous for founding Sirius Satellite Radio. Today, she serves as chief of United Therapeutics, a publicly-traded pharmaceutical company she created in 1996 in order to develop a cure for pulmonary hypertension -- a critical heart disease one of her daughters suffers from. (Rothblatt and her wife, Bina Aspen, whom she married prior to her transition, have four children.)

Thanks to United Therapeutics, which touts a roughly $5 billion valuation, Rothblatt pocketed $38 million last year -- trumping Yahoo's Marissa Mayer ($25 million) and Hewlett-Packard's Meg Whitman ($17 million.)

Related: An Unlikely Icon: With 'Drag Race,' RuPaul Rounds Another Victory Lap

While a top-paid transgendered CEO may mark a unicorn in corporate America, Rothblatt says her accomplishment isn't necessarily a victory for womankind. "I can't claim that what I have achieved is equivalent to what a woman has achieved," she told New York magazine. "For the first half of my life, I was male."

Only 5 percent of Fortune 500 companies are run by women, according to New York magazine, who receive a median pay that is $1.6 million less than their male counterparts.

Related: Pepsi CEO Indra Nooyi: 'I Don't Think Women Can Have It All'

Rothblatt, however, whose kids still call her "dad," regards herself not so much transgender as she does "transhumanist," according to New York, or "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."

While Sirius was wrought from Rothblatt's passions regarding the commercial capacities of outer space, today she is on the hunt for immortality, a pursuit that currently includes the creation of robots called "mindclones," or digital replicas of human minds.

Developed by loading video interviews, photographs, personality tests, Facebook posts, tweets and Amazon orders into AI, Rothblatt is currently in the process of creating her very first mindclone modeled after Aspen.

Related: Hey, Dad: Give Your Daughter's Career a Boost. Do the Dishes.

Geoff Weiss

Former Staff Writer

Geoff Weiss is a former staff writer at Entrepreneur.com.

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