By Trudy Ring
Originally published on Advocate.com August 23 2013 5:17 PM ET
Col. James Pritzker, a member of a prominent and wealthy Chicago family and funder of a study on transgender people in the military, has come out as transgender, Crain’s Chicago Business reports.
Crain’s quotes an email sent to employees of the Pritzker Military Library and Pritzker’s company Tawani Enterprises, saying, “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.” The business journal adds that “a spokeswoman declined to answer questions about Col. Pritzker’s sexuality or possible hormone therapy.”
Pritzker has a net worth of $1.5 billion, according to Forbes, and has donated to many philanthropic efforts, including preservation and restoration of historic buildings. Her family has a long history in business. Pritzker’s father, the late Robert Pritzker, founded the Marmon Group, a holding company for a variety of businesses, and her uncles, the late Jay Pritzker and Donald Pritzker, founded Hyatt Hotels. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker is her cousin.
Jennifer Pritzker is a military veteran, having served 11 years in the Army and 16 in the National Guard. She founded the Pritzker Military Library, which opened in 2011 in Chicago, and in July of this year her Tawani Foundation awarded $1.35 million to the Palm Center, a California-based think tank, for a study of issues surrounding transgender service in the military.
“One source in the know says Col. Pritzker’s announcement will not come as a surprise to those who know her best and it will not affect the colonel’s interest in preserving military history or old buildings,” Crain’s reports. Noting that she has always been a very private person, the magazine continues, “Will the announcement mean she will be more willing to talk about life as a Pritzker in Chicago? Not likely. Gender, says the source, has nothing to do with wanting to keep your life private.”