Jennifer Pritzker offers to advise Trump
August 4th, 2017
Chicago billionaire and political donor Jennifer Pritzker is volunteering her expertise as a “retired U.S. Army colonel, longtime Republican and transgender woman” to help President Donald Trump understand how transgender individuals benefit the U.S. military.
Pritzker, an heir to the Hyatt Hotel fortune, made the offer in response to Trump’s recent announcement–via Twitter–that he plans to reinstate a ban on transgender individuals from serving “in any capacity” in the Armed Forces.
“I am deeply disappointed,” Pritzker told me in an emailed statement. “I urge President Trump to stop playing partisan politics. I offer my hand in educating President Trump so that he can learn the facts about transgender personnel serving in the military.”
Lt. Col. Pritzker, like many in the trans community, struggled with her identity for years while serving in the military, then as James Pritzker.
The Chicago native spent eight and a half years on active duty in the Army. She took a break to earn a history degree from Loyola University Chicago and then joined the Illinois National Guard, where she served 14 years.
Pritzker has acknowledged the difficulty in trying to live a secret trans life while serving in the military. She retired in 2001 as a lieutenant colonel, more than a decade before the ban on trans individuals serving in the military was lifted in 2016.
Pritzker, whose grandchildren who call her Grandpa Jen, has long been active in Republican politics. She contributed some $250,000 to Trump’s campaign for president and tens of thousands more to other Republican races.
Her conservative leanings are an anomaly in the Pritzker family. Pritzker’s cousins are Democrats Penny Pritzker, a former U.S. Cabinet member under Barack Obama, and J.B. Pritzker, a Democratic gubernatorial candidate.
Jennifer Pritzker is a notable name in Chicago’s real-estate community, bringing new life to aging buildings and homes.
Since announcing her name change in 2013, she hasn’t been especially outspoken within the GLBT community. Until now. Trump’s tweet prompted her to write a Time magazine opinion piece saying she’d stand up for trans members of the military.
In her note to me she points out trans military personnel don’t “harm combat readiness, morale, or discipline.”
Trump’s tweet, she writes, is “a waste of time” and a distraction. “As a nation, we face tremendous issues and President Trump needs to focus on these issues; as he promised in his campaign for the presidency.”