Col. James N. Pritzker, the very-private billionaire whose Evanston real estate projects have caused local controversy, has reportedly announced he’s changed his gender identity.

Chicago Business says the retired Army lieutenant colonel, in a memo to employees at his Tawani Enterprises wealth management firm and the Pritzker Military Library, announced that he’s now living as a woman named Jennifer Natalya Pritzker.

A statement said the 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.”

Pritzker, 63, whose fortune has been estimated at $1.5 billion, has a daughter and two sons from a marriage that ended in divorce and is an heir to the Hyatt hotel fortune.

She served 11 years on active duty in the U.S. Army and 16 years in the U.S. National Guard.

Within the past two years she has won approval from the Evanton City Council to convert two lakefront homes near her own residence to bed and breakfast establishments, but the City Council turned down her proposal to buy the city-owned lakefront Harley Clarke mansion and expand it for use as a boutique hotel.

Original story

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

Join the Conversation


  1. And this is news…why?

    I am not sure why this is even being reported.  Who cares what gender the Colonel is and what does it have to do with anything?

  2. Coming out

    I'm glad Col. Pritzker is finally making a formal announcement. This facet of his personality has been whispered about far too long, and I'm glad he finally opened up about it. Most, if not all Evanstonians will have no problem with him becoming Jennifer Natalya Pritzker.

  3. Waste

    Who cares what he does but now I see why the city council turned down a pretty good deal for Evanston. Other than that, this story isn’t worth the electrons that were used to display it.

  4. Jennifer Pritzker

    since i know a young woman who transitioned to a male, i applaud ms. pritzker for following her true identity.  there is no better time in history for people whose gender was confused at birth to become their true selves than now, with greater acceptance the rule rather than a rare exception. for an insight into what it must be like to have been born into the wrong body, please read "conundrum" by james (now jan) morris, british military hero, father of three, foreign correspondent and now best-selling author and columnist.

    i have been dismayed over the past months by opponents of the harley clark sale who described ms. pritzker as "weird".  these are good liberals who are all for anything different and who are always politically correct.  hmmm.

    i also would like the adjective "billionaire" to be retired when reporting anything on this person.  we don't describe various people in the news in evanston as "millionaire so-and-so" as if their wealth had anything to do with their activism or position on this or that issue.  let's try "developer", "well-known preservationist", "investor in evanston"  "adaptive building restorer" or some such.  it is assumed that developers have access to money.

    mary brugliera

  5. good for her and kudos to Evanston Now

    I'm glad she came out!  And that it was reported.  It is important for others struggling with gender-identity issues to see a positive example of someone who can make the transition gracefully.  She's a public figure as evidenced by how much she is in Evanston news.  

    And huge huge kudos to EN for immediately (and correctly) using the female-gender pronoun SHE.  As more and more people are willing to be out as transgender (and transexual), we need solid examples of the polite and sensitive way to negotiate this relatively new (or relatively newly public) kind of transition.  One polite thing is to immediately change to the gender-idntified pronoun rather than birth pronoun.  

    Congratulations Jennifer!

  6. Let DNA Decide

    If Pritzker wants to dress up as a woman, that is his decision but if he wants to use the ladies room, let DNA decide. Also, if his kids want to call him MOM, that is up to them. Unless he had a stand-in when the kids were conceived, he'll always be a guy.

    I wonder why Bill is using the female pronoun when he has no proof that Pritzker is a woman. If people were able to choose what they want to be, it would be a terrible world to live in.

    1. great quote..

      Here's a great quote for the history books:

      "If people were able to choose what they want to be, it would be a terrible world to live in." – OneSmartGuy

Leave a comment
The goal of our comment policy is to make the comments section a vibrant yet civil space. Treat each other with respect — even the people you disagree with. Whenever possible, provide links to credible documentary evidence to back up your factual claims.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *