Not only is she the critically acclaimed author of Virtually Human: The Promise –and the Peril – of Digital Immortality, but transgender activist Martine Rothblatt is also one of the visionaries behind satellite radio. Rothblatt recently spoke on the Michelangelo Signorile Show about her book, and provided some insight to living life as transgender.

“In this book, I pointed out that forcing everybody to be either male or female is a kind of sexual apartheid. Apartheid is what was used in South Africa to make people declare themselves as either black or white,” says Rothblatt.

On the other hand, Rothblatt also comments that society is changing for the better: “I predicted in the 1990s that people would stop demanding that marriages be between only a penis and a vagina — fortunately that’s not the case in about half of the U.S.”

Another issue Rothblatt addresses is that at the moment, many transgender people don’t speak openly about their “past lives” — that is to say, life before transitioning. Rothblatt clarifies for critics and in the transgender community and asks the essential question: “How can we continue to exist within a society where people only have to be male or female?…So most people, as you point out, traditionally, they disappear … and live their life [with] a sense of fear, that their male background will get discovered,” says Rothblatt. Rothblatt also points out that there are dangerous, even life-threatening reasons as to why one would want to hide their past from the public.

“You know you’ve lived the past part of your life … you’ve lived 25 years in the closet as a transgender person. Why do you want to live your whole future in the closet? Isn’t the whole point of being a transgender not so much to express a particular gender identity, but to be open to your soul and open to your heart? That made no sense, and that’s why I’m open,” says Rothblatt.

Finally, Rothblatt talks about the conception the satellite radio, which, according to her, wasn’t a simple process. Apparently, Rothblatt “had to pretty much show them on a white board that it could be done!”

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