Chicago billionaire comes out as transgender, backs study of transgender military service with cash

By George Chidi
Friday, August 23, 2013 18:26 EDT
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Jennifer Pritzker in 2012
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One of the wealthy heirs of the Pritzker hotel fortune — a former lieutenant colonel in the Illinois Army National Guard — came out as transgender Friday.

Jennifer Natalya Pritzker — formerly known as James Pritzker — is part of the prominent Chicago Pritzker family that founded the Marmon Group and owns the Hyatt hotel chain, the TransUnion credit agency and other businesses. Jennifer Pritzker’s cousin is Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker.

In a letter emailed to employees at the Pritzker Military Library and Tawani Enterprises and forwarded to Crain’s Chicago Business, the billionaire said that “As of Aug. 16, 2013, J.N. Pritzker will undergo an official legal name change, will now be known as Jennifer Natalya Pritzker. This change will reflect the beliefs of her true identity that she has held privately and will now share publicly. Pritzker now identifies herself as a woman for all business and personal undertakings.”

Jennifer Pritzker enlisted in the Army in 1974 and earned a commission as an infantry officer in 1979, serving with the 82nd and 101st Airborne divisions before moving to the Illinois Army National Guard. She retired from military service in 2001.

BuzzFeed reported in July that Pritzker’s Tawani Foundation — a charitable organization promoting citizen service through the support of ROTC programs and other grants — had funded a $1.35 million “launch grant” to the Palm Center, a research organization studying sexuality in the military.

Watch a video of Jennifer Pritzker present Sir Max Hastings the 2012 Pritzker Military Library Lifetime Achievement Award at the Library’s Liberty Gala in 2012.

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