Brittney Griner Is Home in Texas, Here’s What’s Next

Feature image photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Image

Update — Friday, December 9th

+ BG landed at Kelly Field in San Antonio around 6:30 am. She was taken to Brooke Army Medical Center for a mental and physical health evaluation. If, like us, you want to see it with your own eyes, here’s some footage of her walking off the plane.

+ Last night TJ Quinn over at ESPN published a deeply reported piece on the final week of Brittney’s wrongful imprisonment in Russia, including how and why Cherelle was at the White House yesterday morning; why BG’s hair was cut; and how worried her lawyers were, especially after she lost her glasses. It also describes her time in the penal colony where she worked carrying big bolts of fabric to the imprisoned women working as seamstresses. It’s a tough but important read. Just writing about it is making me feel sick again and on the verge of tears because I am just so fucking relieved she’s home. This Twitter thread from Quinn is also really important.It talks about what’s next for Griner in terms of reclaiming her agency and autonomy on American soil.

+ Also, if you’re actually interested in the geopolitical details of a prisoner swap, here’s an in-depth piece. I say “actually interested” because suddenly everyone is a damn foreign policy expert. Relevant quotes:

“We tried [Bout], we convicted him, we gave him a very long sentence,” retired US District Judge Shira Scheindlin, who led the sentencing in 2012, told the Reuters news agency earlier this year, as she argued for a swap with Griner. “But now the situation has changed and this is a trade we should make.”

“Her sentence was [entirely] politically motivated,” Russian human rights lawyer Arseny Levinson told Al Jazeera. “She should not have been sentenced to a real prison term at all. Moreover, such a severe punishment should not have been imposed, it was motivated solely by raising the stakes in the exchange, making a mockery out of the hostage.”

+ No one has been doing it better than Kimberly St. Julian-Varnon, a leading expert and Ph.D. student studying race/Blackness in Russia/the Soviet Union and Germany. Follow her to get educated.

+ A podcast that deserves your time and attention.

Original Article — Thursday, December 8th

The greatest news I’ve been hoping for and terrified of never hearing has finally broken: After 294 days of being wrongfully detained in Russia, Brittney Griner is free! She’s in American custody, safe, on a plane, and on her way home! The Biden Administration tweeted the news about twenty minutes ago. Cherelle Griner and Vice-President Kamala Harris were in the Oval Office when Biden was put in touch with Griner.

According to CBS News, Griner was released “in a one-for-one prisoner swap for international arms dealer Viktor Bout. The one-for-one exchange agreement negotiated with Moscow in recent weeks was given final approval by President Biden within just the last week, according to sources familiar with the deal. The swap, first reported by CBS News, took place on Thursday in the United Arab Emirates.”

Cherelle Griner, a lawyer whose advocacy for her wife has been constant, spoke from the White House moments ago.

Biden also spoke briefly.

I will update this post today as more information becomes available. And there will be so much to discuss in the weeks and months to come about how this was ever allowed to happen. Right now though, Brittney Griner is alive, and she’s on her way home to her wife.

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Heather Hogan

Heather Hogan is an Autostraddle senior editor who lives in New York City with her wife, Stacy, and their cackle of rescued pets. She's a member of the Television Critics Association, GALECA: The Society of LGBTQ Entertainment Critics, and a Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer critic. You can also find her on Twitter and Instagram.

Heather has written 1718 articles for us.


  1. What a tremendous relief! I’m so happy she’s safe, and I’m grateful that I knew I could come read this news here without needing to worry about seeing any nasty comments.

    Thank you Heather and Carmen for all your coverage of BG’s case this year.

  2. A big whoof of relief went through my whole body when I saw this headline. Thank the Goddess/the Universe/the Force/whatever and thank you Carmen and Heather for all the coverage here on AS. It’s the best day in the world today.

  3. gonna keep sending BG love. 10 months in jail and being used as a political bargaining chip could be hard for a while.

    i’m so grateful autostraddle and the wnbpa kept up coverage. and doing it without the divisive rhetoric so common these days, despite how hard it was. just, thank you.

  4. I saw this on the bus and definitely burst into tears at the thought that Brittney will be able to spend Christmas with her family. I will be so relieved once she actually lands in the US.

  5. What a wonderful surprise, I was afraid she would spend years in that gulag before being free. Thank you Carmen for your continuing coverage of her horrifying detention, I thought of you when I read the headline.

  6. So so glad about this!! I heard about it from some of my high school students and was very thankful for AS’s ongoing excellent coverage of the BG story — it meant I was able to quickly and concisely explain why we should care about it to some kids who didn’t know what was going on!

  7. I just looked up Ride or Die in the dictionary and it was a picture of Cherelle Griner. I hope BG and Cherelle put out a brief written statement and then spend the next however many days, weeks, months, or years healing. I hope everyone respects their privacy and allows them that time.

  8. I’m late here, but I was also terrible relieved that she is at her home again. I’m still worried and appalled at all the people that are suffering her same fate either in Russia or in other prisons around the world. Prisons are fucking nightmares almost everywhere, and even more so in places where democracy is just a ruse.
    I hope Britney can heal, there is a heavy burden to bear after going through all of that. I wish her and her family the best outcome after all of this.

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