Billionaire Pritzker Tells Men to Use Women's Bathrooms to Protest Trump

Dem donor is exploring Illinois gubernatorial run

Transgender Bathrooms
February 23, 2017

A billionaire Democratic megadonor, who is exploring a run for governor, encouraged men to use women's bathrooms on Wednesday sparking criticism from transgender advocates and politicians.

J.B. Pritzker, the billionaire heir whose father co-founded Hyatt hotels, floated the idea of switching bathrooms in the wake of President Donald Trump's executive order reversing an Obama policy that could have stripped federal funds from schools that maintain separate bathroom facilities based on sex.

"As a protest against Trump's rescinding protections for trans kids, everyone should use the other gender's bathroom today!" he tweeted at 8:36 a.m.

The tweet immediately provoked criticism from liberals. Illinois State Rep. Will Guzzardi (D., Chicago), a supporter of the Obama rule, said that Pritzker's tweet was insensitive and mischaracterized the transgender bathroom and locker room debate.

"No disrespect ‪@JBPritzker but it's actually about precisely *not* that. We just want to let kids use their own gender's bathroom," Guzzardi tweeted in response. "Your idea suggests that we support ppl going into opposite-gender bathrooms, which plays right into transphobic rhetoric."

Pritzker has been called "the other mayor of Chicago" for his political influence and massive campaign spending on behalf of Democratic candidates such as Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel. He has close ties to the Clintons, having served as the national co-chair of Hillary Clinton's failed 2008 presidential bid, as well as the Obama administration. His sister, Penny Pritzker, served as Secretary of Commerce under President Obama from 2013 until he left office. J.B. Pritzker and his wife were two of the largest individual spenders in the 2016 election, shelling out more than $21 million to elect Clinton and other Democrats, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

Pritzker has now set his sights on the Illinois governor's mansion and is exploring the idea of self-funding a campaign. Rauner self-financed a $40 million campaign run in 2014, which helped him overcome steep Democratic advantages in the deep blue state.

Other Democrats vying for the nomination were quick to criticize Pritzker's protest idea. Tom Elliot, communications director for Chicago Alderman Ameya Pawar's gubernatorial campaign, accused the billionaire of "missing the point entirely"

"Telling people to use the other gender's bathroom is missing the point entirely and a terrible idea. ‪@JBPritzker ‪#protecttranskids," Elliot replied.

Others were more blunt in their criticisms of Pritzker's suggestion.


After nearly four hours of critical responses, Pritzker walked back the idea saying that it was not meant t0 be taken literally.