America’s first trans billionaire may leave Tennessee over state’s anti-trans bills

“No state benefits from the perception that it is an intolerant and unwelcome place for people of different backgrounds,” Jennifer Pritzker says

Maroosha Muzaffar
@Maroosha_M
Friday 07 May 2021 10:52
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<p>Jennifer Pritzker has threatened to pull her company from Tennessee in response to a number of anti-LGBTQ laws</p>

Jennifer Pritzker has threatened to pull her company from Tennessee in response to a number of anti-LGBTQ laws

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The world’s first trans billionaire, Jennifer Pritzker, has warned Republicans in her home state of Tennessee that she might move her company out of the state if anti-trans bills are passed.

Speaking at a video news conference hosted by the Nashville LGBT Chamber of Commerce, Ms Pritzker — whose net worth is $2bn (£1.4bn) — said: “No state benefits from the perception that it is an intolerant and unwelcome place for people of different backgrounds, and it alarms me gravely to see this state vying for the title of least inclusive in the nation.”

Ms Pritzker, whose family started the Hyatt Hotels Group, is a retired US Army lieutenant colonel. Upon retirement in 2001, she was promoted to the rank of honorary colonel in the Illinois National Guard. She has said she wants to use her wealth to help other trans people.

Tennessee is one of the many states across the US that is currently considering anti-LGBTQ+ bills.

According to The Hill, Ms Pritzker said: “As a transgender woman, these unnecessary and hurtful laws are personal to me. As a businesswoman, my larger concern is the impact they will have on Tennessee’s reputation and, ultimately, economic well-being, as businesses and tourists turn elsewhere.”

Many corporations have threatened to move out of the state if anti-LBGTQ+ bills put forward by the Republicans are passed. Companies such as Nissan North America, Amazon, Dell, Pilot, and Warner Music Group have also said they are against the bills and would consider moving out of the state.

Joe Woolley, executive director of the Nashville LGBTQ Chamber, also said the Republicans are actively hurting the economy of the state by what activists are calling “slate of hate” anti-LGBTQ bills.

Mr Woolley said: “They call themselves pro-business Republicans, but they’re the ones who are passing this legislation and harming the state.”

Tennesse currently has a slate of at least 15 anti-LGBTQ bills. The Republican governor Bill Lee has already signed one into law that bans trans youth from competing in school sports. Another bill seeks to ban LGBTQ+ content from school textbooks, and yet another aims to restrict hormone therapy for trans minors.

Mr Woolley said: “Tennessee is the state with the most anti-LGBTQ bills filed this year. We are the state that’s had the most anti-LGBT filed since 2017, and we’re also the state that has the most to lose.”

Writing about several anti-LGBTQ+ bills, Ms Pritzker said in an op-ed in Nashville Tennessean: “As a transgender woman, these gratuitously stigmatising laws could prevent me from using the bathroom in a state where I conduct business. And as a businesswoman, who brings jobs and revenue to Tennessee, I see this legislation taking the state down a dangerous economic path.”

Ms Pritzker supported the former US president, Donald Trump, during his 2016 presidential run but after he announced a transgender military ban in 2017, she spoke out against him.

“Governor Lee and a majority of state lawmakers are creating an environment that is forcing me to consider pulling my business out of the state,” she wrote.

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