Brittney Griner calls attacks on trans athletes a ‘crime’: ‘Everyone deserves the right to play’

Brittney Griner, a Black woman with short hair, wearing a cream coloured suit on the Met Gala white carpet

Brittney Griner has vowed to stand up for trans athletes and speak out against efforts to ban them from sports.

Griner gave her first news conference since being freed from a 10-month Russian detention on 27 April.

A journalist asked the basketball star about her thoughts on legislation seeking to keep trans athletes from playing on teams that align with their gender identity.

“Where is that going to rank on your radar when it comes to advocating for transgender athletes being able to play?” she was asked.

Griner said it remained a priority issue for her.

“That ranks high on the list of things I’ll be fighting for and speaking up against. Everyone deserves the right to play,” she said.

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“Everyone deserves the right to come here, sit in these seats and feel safe – and not feel like there’s the threat, or they can’t be who they are, or like it’s just all eyes on them.”

Brittney Griner is brought from a Russian court room surrounded by armed guards.
Brittney Griner is brought from a Russian court room surrounded by armed guards. (Getty)

Across America, states have been moving to ban trans athletes, especially trans female athletes.

In April, the House of Representatives passed a Republican-backed bill that would ban trans women across America from participating in school athletic programs for females. It is unlikely to pass through the Democrat-controlled Senate.

Griner said she will be using her platform to fight such anti-trans bills.

“I think it’s a crime, honestly, to separate someone for any reason. So, I definitely will be speaking up against that legislation and those laws that are trying to be passed, for sure.” 

Griner’s support for the trans community comes as LGBTQ+ people continue to be attacked across America.

This year alone, more than 300 anti-LGBTQ+ bills have been introduced in the United States – with many more yet to come.

Globally, sporting bodies are also seeking to restrict trans women’s participation in sports.

Brittney Griner was arrested in Russia in 2022 for carrying vape cartridges containing hash oil through a Moscow airport.

She was charged with drug possession and sentenced to nine years in a Russian prison.

After international outrage, Griner was released when US president Joe Biden arranged a prisoner swap with Russia for convicted arms dealer Viktor Bout.

Griner has vowed to continue to fight for Americans who are still in prison in Russia. She told those still detained: “Stay strong, keep fighting, don’t give up, keep waking up, find a little routine and stick to that routine.”