Person

Jennifer Pritzker

U.S. Army Chief of Staff, Gen. Mark A. Milley, is given a tour of the Pritzker Museum and Library, a non-profit organization in Chicago, Il., November 16, 2016. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class Chuck Burden)

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Jennifer Pritzker is a member of the Pritzker family of billionaires and Democratic politicians. Pritzker was born in 1950 as James Pritzker, a nephew of the founders of the Hyatt Hotel chain. In 2013, Pritzker changed his name from James to Jennifer, 1 and is the world’s first transgender billionaire. 2

While Pritzker has supported Republicans in the past, 3 she contributed to Democratic candidates for President and Democratic-aligned political committees in the 2020 election. 4

Background

Jennifer Pritzker, born James in 1950, is the nephew and heir to the founders of the Hyatt Hotel chain. The combined family wealth of the descendants is approximately $29 billion, 5 of which Jennifer possesses roughly $2 billion. 6 Among Jennifer Pritzker’s cousins are two prominent Democratic political figures: Penny Pritzker, Secretary of Commerce in President Barack Obama’s administration; and her brother, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker (D). 7 Jennifer is married for the third time to Erin Solaro, and has three children from two marriages. 8 Pritzker is also the grandparent of three children. 9

James N. Pritzker changed his name and gender identity from a male to a female in 2013, 10 becoming “the world’s only known trans billionaire.” 11 Pritzker stated that she doesn’t “deny biological reality” but that “It is possible to have a person who has the physical characteristics of one sex, but the emotions and psychological makeup of the other.” 12 Pritzker stated that, “Defining sex as ‘a biological, immutable condition determined at birth by genitalia,’ disregards the internal, emotional experience of gender identity. It also denies acknowledgment of the transgendered community and strips us of our civil rights.”’ 13

Political Activism

Jennifer Pritzker has a history of significant donations to Republican candidates. In 2010, nearly $600,000 went to Bill Brady, a Republican candidate for governor, and Judy Topinka (R), running for state comptroller, received more than $900,000 from Pritzker. 14

An interviewer described Pritzker’s political views as supporting getting “‘government out of the way of business’ to foster job growth and investment, reducing the state’s unfunded pension liability, support of the military.” 15

On social issues, Pritzker parts from conservative views, particularly the desire for “legalizing civil unions for same-sex couples.” 16

In the 2016 Presidential election supported Republican candidates former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, surgeon Ben Carson, former Ohio Gov. John Kasich, and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, and later donated $250,000 to President Donald Trump’s inaugural committee. 17

In the 2020 Presidential primary, Pritzker donated $1,000 to former South Bend mayor Pete Buttigieg. 18 Later in the campaign, Pritzker gave $100,000 to the anti-Trump super-PAC Lincoln Project, $2,000 to Libertarian Party candidate Jo Jorgensen, and in August 2020, $2,000 to former Vice President Joe Biden’s campaign. 19

In 2020, when Jennifer’s cousin Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker advocated for passage of a tax increase, Jennifer donated $500,000 to a group formed to stop the tax hike because “there is evidence that the tax hike amendment could eventually raise taxes on the middle and working classes.” 20

Transgender Activism

In the 2016 presidential election, Jennifer Pritzker supported Donald Trump over former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in part because “I thought he would be at least as LGBTQ-friendly as any Democratic candidate.” 21 Pritzker reneged on her support of Trump after his announcements opposing transgender persons from serving in the military. 22 Pritzker referred to President Trump’s ban as “a giant step backward” that “hurts our Armed Forces and shows a callous disregard for the rights of American citizens.” 23

When President Joe Biden removed the ban on transgender in the military, Pritzker said, “This action will help the Armed Forces access a larger pool of qualified recruits for our all-volunteer force, and it is based on extensive research showing that inclusive policy is successful and strengthens our military. Quite simply, it is the right thing to do for our military and our country.” 24

Jennifer Pritzker funds many institutions related to transgenderism, including $6.5 million to the Program in Human Sexuality at the University of Minnesota; $5.99 million to Palm Center, an LGBTQ think tank, for a study on trans people in the military; $2 million for the world’s first chair of trans studies, at the University of Victoria, British Columbia; $1 million to Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago for a Gender and Sex Development Program; and $50,000 for the first trans-study course at the University of Toronto. 25 The gender identity clinic at the Lurie Children’s Hospital that Pritzker supports reported they “have a 4- to 5-month waiting list for our services.” The clinic’s “patients range in age from 4 to 22.” 26

Pritzker also donated more than $100,000 to support the American Civil Liberties Union to challenge a Tennessee law that she deemed to be anti-transgender. 27

Inside Philanthropy Coverage

In 2022, Jennifer Pritzker was listed as a “builder” by Inside Philanthropy, defined as “Heirs who are tapping their parent’s wealth to create and run their own foundations, or who’ve greatly expanded on the giving path started by their parents.” Inside Philanthropy commented that “the fact that so many heirs are wielding power through philanthropy tells us something disturbing about our nation’s deepening inequality…. “it’s not ok that a small elite has so much wealth and power.” 28

References

  1. “Famous Colonel Announces Intent to Live Life as a Woman.” HuffPost. August 23, 2013. https://www.huffpost.com/entry/jennifer-natalya-pritzker_n_3806126
  2. Markay, Lachlan. “They Donated to Trump’s Inauguration. Now These Big Donors Are Funding His 2020 Competition.” The Daily Beast. January 13, 2020. https://www.thedailybeast.com/they-donated-to-trumps-inauguration-now-these-big-donors-are-funding-his-2020-competition
  3. McCoppin , Robert, Bob Goldsborough, and Melissa Harris. “The World of Jennifer Pritzker.” Chicago Tribune. September 22, 2013. https://www.chicagotribune.com/business/ct-xpm-2013-09-22-ct-biz-0922-jennifer-pritzker-20130922-story.html
  4. Tindera, Michela. “Billionaire Jennifer Pritzker, a Former Trump Donor, Donates $100,000 to the Lincoln Project.” Forbes. October 23, 2020. https://www.forbes.com/sites/michelatindera/2020/10/23/billionaire-jennifer-pritzker-a-former-trump-donor-donates-100000-to-the-lincoln-project/?sh=326c5d117584
  5. Bilek, Jennifer. “Follow the Money: How the Pritzker Family Makes a Killing from the Transgender Industry (Flow Chart).” The 11th Hour Blog. January 26, 2022. https://www.the11thhourblog.com/post/follow-the-money-how-the-pritzker-family-makes-a-killing-from-the-transgender-industry-flow-chart
  6. “Jennifer Pritzker.” Forbes. Accessed April 1, 2022. https://www.forbes.com/profile/jennifer-pritzker/?sh=7fe8d6215808
  7. Markay, Lachlan. “They Donated to Trump’s Inauguration. Now These Big Donors Are Funding His 2020 Competition.” The Daily Beast. January 13, 2020. https://www.thedailybeast.com/they-donated-to-trumps-inauguration-now-these-big-donors-are-funding-his-2020-competition
  8. “Jennifer N. Pritzker, Erin E. Solaro wed.” Windy City Times. November 2, 2020. https://www.windycitytimes.com/m/APPredirect.php?AID=69508/
  9.  Reginato, James, Nick Bilton, and Peter Hamby. “Why Billionaire Jennifer Pritzker Abandoned Trump after Coming out as Trans.” Vanity Fair. June 13, 2019. https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2019/06/why-billionaire-republican-donor-jennifer-pritzker-is-abandoning-trump-after-coming-out-as-trans
  10. “Famous Colonel Announces Intent to Live Life as a Woman.” HuffPost. August 23, 2013. https://www.huffpost.com/entry/jennifer-natalya-pritzker_n_3806126
  11. Markay, Lachlan. “They Donated to Trump’s Inauguration. Now These Big Donors Are Funding His 2020 Competition.” The Daily Beast. January 13, 2020. https://www.thedailybeast.com/they-donated-to-trumps-inauguration-now-these-big-donors-are-funding-his-2020-competition
  12. Reginato, James, Nick Bilton, and Peter Hamby. “Why Billionaire Jennifer Pritzker Abandoned Trump after Coming out as Trans.” Vanity Fair. June 13, 2019. https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2019/06/why-billionaire-republican-donor-jennifer-pritzker-is-abandoning-trump-after-coming-out-as-trans
  13. “Statement by Col. Jennifer Pritzker.” Tawani Enterprises. November 8, 2018. https://www.tawanienterprises.com/press-release/colonel-jennifer-pritzker-statement-on-reported-trump-administration-gender-policy/
  14. McCoppin , Robert, Bob Goldsborough, and Melissa Harris. “The World of Jennifer Pritzker.” Chicago Tribune. September 22, 2013. https://www.chicagotribune.com/business/ct-xpm-2013-09-22-ct-biz-0922-jennifer-pritzker-20130922-story.html
  15. McCoppin , Robert, Bob Goldsborough, and Melissa Harris. “The World of Jennifer Pritzker.” Chicago Tribune. September 22, 2013. https://www.chicagotribune.com/business/ct-xpm-2013-09-22-ct-biz-0922-jennifer-pritzker-20130922-story.html
  16. McCoppin , Robert, Bob Goldsborough, and Melissa Harris. “The World of Jennifer Pritzker.” Chicago Tribune. September 22, 2013. https://www.chicagotribune.com/business/ct-xpm-2013-09-22-ct-biz-0922-jennifer-pritzker-20130922-story.html
  17. Markay, Lachlan. “They Donated to Trump’s Inauguration. Now These Big Donors Are Funding His 2020 Competition.” The Daily Beast. January 13, 2020. https://www.thedailybeast.com/they-donated-to-trumps-inauguration-now-these-big-donors-are-funding-his-2020-competition
  18. Markay, Lachlan. “They Donated to Trump’s Inauguration. Now These Big Donors Are Funding His 2020 Competition.” The Daily Beast. January 13, 2020. https://www.thedailybeast.com/they-donated-to-trumps-inauguration-now-these-big-donors-are-funding-his-2020-competition
  19.  Tindera, Michela. “Billionaire Jennifer Pritzker, a Former Trump Donor, Donates $100,000 to the Lincoln Project.” Forbes. October 23, 2020. https://www.forbes.com/sites/michelatindera/2020/10/23/billionaire-jennifer-pritzker-a-former-trump-donor-donates-100000-to-the-lincoln-project/?sh=326c5d117584
  20.  [1] Hinton, Rachel. “Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s Cousin Donates to Stop Governor’s Coveted Graduated Income Tax Proposal.” Chicago Sun-Times. October 14, 2020. https://chicago.suntimes.com/politics/2020/10/13/21515151/family-feud-jb-pritzker-cousin-jennifer-graduated-income-tax-election-amendment
  21. Reginato, James, Nick Bilton, and Peter Hamby. “Why Billionaire Jennifer Pritzker Abandoned Trump after Coming out as Trans.” Vanity Fair. June 13, 2019. https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2019/06/why-billionaire-republican-donor-jennifer-pritzker-is-abandoning-trump-after-coming-out-as-trans
  22. Markay, Lachlan. “They Donated to Trump’s Inauguration. Now These Big Donors Are Funding His 2020 Competition.” The Daily Beast. January 13, 2020. https://www.thedailybeast.com/they-donated-to-trumps-inauguration-now-these-big-donors-are-funding-his-2020-competition
  23. Hack, Richard. “GOP Transgender Billionaire, Jennifer Pritzker, Donates to …” LGBTQ Loyalty. October 4, 2020. https://lgbtqloyalty.com/2020/10/04/gop-transgender-billionaire-jennifer-pritzker-donates-to-joe-biden/
  24. Kapos, Shia. “Kinzinger Kicks at Trump’s GOP – Renter Protectors – Jennifer Pritzker’s Hail to the Chief.” POLITICO. January 26, 2021. https://www.politico.com/newsletters/illinois-playbook/2021/01/26/kinzinger-kicks-at-trumps-gop-renter-protectors-jennifer-pritzkers-hail-to-the-chief-491528
  25. Reginato, James, Nick Bilton, and Peter Hamby. “Why Billionaire Jennifer Pritzker Abandoned Trump after Coming out as Trans.” Vanity Fair. June 13, 2019. https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2019/06/why-billionaire-republican-donor-jennifer-pritzker-is-abandoning-trump-after-coming-out-as-trans
  26. Reginato, James, Nick Bilton, and Peter Hamby. “Why Billionaire Jennifer Pritzker Abandoned Trump after Coming out as Trans.” Vanity Fair. June 13, 2019. https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2019/06/why-billionaire-republican-donor-jennifer-pritzker-is-abandoning-trump-after-coming-out-as-trans
  27. Muzaffar, Maroosha. “Col. Jennifer Pritzker announces Six-figure donation to ACLU to help fight Anti-Trans Laws.” Tawani Foundation. April 22, 2021. https://tawanifoundation.org/our-impact/articles/col-jennifer-pritzker-announces-six-figure-donation-to-aclu-to-help-fight-anti-trans-laws/
  28. Callahan, David. “The Most Powerful Heirs in Philanthropy.” Inside Philanthropy. January 31, 2022. https://www.insidephilanthropy.com/home/2022/1/19/the-most-powerful-heirs-in-philanthropy
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