SOCHI, Russia - The International Olympic Committee on Tuesday defended the removal of an Italian gay rights activist from a Sochi arena, saying she was "escorted from there peacefully" and not detained.
Former Italian lawmaker Vladimir Luxuria was taken away by four unidentified men in a car with Olympic markings as she tried to enter an arena Monday night for a women's hockey game.
Luxuria, dressed in rainbow colours, had been walking around Olympic Park for nearly two hours, accompanied by a scrum of reporters. Most of the Russian spectators seemed clueless about the gay rights message and some approached her to take a picture, thinking she was a carnival character.
Luxuria later told The Associated Press she was kept in the car for about 10 minutes, then released in the countryside after the men had taken her Olympic spectator pass.
IOC spokesman Mark Adams said Tuesday that "what happened yesterday is still a little bit unclear," but said Luxuria had set out to demonstrate at the stadium.
"I know her stated aim to demonstrate in the venue and I believe after a couple of hours when she finally got to the venue I think she was escorted from there peacefully, not detained," Adams said.
He said Olympic Park and the venues are not the right place for demonstrations, and added: "We would ask anyone to make their case somewhere else."
The IOC has strict rules against protests or propaganda during competitions, outlawing any demonstrations in Olympic venues. The IOC contends that allowing someone to display messages not tied to the games would encourage others to use the Olympics for their own gain.
Earlier in the games the IOC reprimanded athletes for wearing armbands and stickers to commemorate the dead.
Chelsea Manning Comes Out
Following <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/07/30/bradley-manning-guilty_n_3677096.html" target="_blank">her trial for leaking classified government documents</a>, Chelsea Manning sent shockwaves through the nation when she announced her transgender identity and asked for the public's support. "As I transition into this next phase of my life, I want everyone to know the real me," <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/08/22/bradley-manning-chelsea-manning_n_3794629.html" target="_blank">Manning said in a statement</a>. "I am Chelsea Manning. I am a female. Given the way that I feel, and have felt since childhood, I want to begin hormone therapy as soon as possible."
Cassidy Lynn Campbell
Cassidy Lynn Cambell, 16, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/09/21/transgender-homecoming-queen_n_3968729.html" target="_blank">made history in September </a>when her peers voted the teen homecoming queen at her California high school. Immediately following her win, Campbell <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/09/23/cassidy-lynn-campbell-transgender-_n_3975668.html" target="_blank">became the victim</a> of online bullying and harassment for her win, inspiring her to <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/09/27/cassidy-lynn-campbell-noh8_n_4004877.html" target="_blank">pose for the "NOH8 Campaign."</a> Her win became one of the first in an <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/10/08/ray-ramsey-transgender-homecoming-_n_4057652.html" target="_blank">incredible year of victories</a> for transgender and <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/10/14/steven-sanchez-transgender-homecoming-queen_n_4098305.html" target="_blank">gender non-conforming</a> students at their respective homecoming events across the country.
Carmen Carrera's Victoria Secret Petition
"RuPaul's Drag Race" season three contestant and transgender model Carmen Carrera unexpectedly became <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/11/05/carmen-carrera-victorias-secret_n_4219136.html" target="_blank">the subject of a viral Internet petition in early November</a>. The petition called for Victoria's Secret to hire the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/08/15/carmen-carrera-w-magazine_n_3762455.html" target="_blank">showgirl</a> as the company's first transgender model in its annual fashion show. Though Victoria's Secret did not respond to the Carrera petition, the model has claimed that she <a href="http://fusion.net/american_dream/story/carmen-carrera-audition-2014-victorias-secret-fashion-show-298695" target="_blank">will campaign to be included</a> in next year's show.
Everything About Laverne Cox
2013 was an incredible year for transgender actress and activist Laverne Cox. Not only did her groundbreaking "Orange Is The New Black" role launch her to superstardom, but Cox continued to be a <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/07/26/orange-is-the-new-black-laverne-cox_n_3660712.html" target="_blank">a voice for the voiceless</a> when it comes to transgender issues, particularly those pertaining to women of color. Among a landslide of other honors throughout the course of the year, the transgender pioneer <a href="http://www.out.com/out100/2013/09/03/out100-readers-choice-award-nomination-laverne-cox" target="_blank">received the "Reader's Choice Award"</a> at this year's OUT 100.
McDonald's Supports Transgender Rights With Bathroom Message
In light of <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/10/24/mcdonalds-food-stamps_n_4151647.html" target="_blank">recent controversy</a> surrounding McDonald's treatment of the company's employees, one Washington franchise of the fast food chain impressively allowed transgender individuals to use the bathroom that corresponds with their gender identity. The letter read, <blockquote>We respect the rights of all customers and employees. We believe all people must have access to safe and dignified bathroom facilities regardless of their gender identity or expression. Therefore, the following policy has been adopted for this restaurant at 1530 3rd Avenue ... Employees and customers may use any restroom that corresponds with and is based upon the gender identity they publicly and exclusively assert or express.</blockquote>
Pat Robertson Makes Progressive Transgender Statement... Then Screws It Up
Historically anti-gay pundit and conservative talk show host Pat Roberston made jaws drop collectively across the nation when he claimed that he didn't "<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/07/29/pat-robertson-transgender_n_3672244.html" target="_blank">think there's any sin associated with</a>" transgender people having gender confirmation surgery. <br><br> However, just a few weeks later he went on to counteract the minimal amount of progressive hope in his views by <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/10/09/pat-robertson-transgender-castrated-horse-_n_4071855.html" target="_blank">comparing transgender people to his castrated horse</a>. <br><br> Looks like some things never change.
First Openly Transgender Character In Mainstream Comics
DC Comic fans were introduced to Alysia in "Batgirl" #19 in early April, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/04/11/dc-comics-transgender-batgirl_n_3061268.html?utm_hp_ref=transgender" target="_blank">who went on to reveal</a> that she is transgender during a conversation with Barbara Gordon (Batgirl). The move made Alysia not only the first DC Comics transgender character but the first transgender character in mainstream comics.
Pritzker Transition Sparks Transgender MIlitary Service Conversation
Jennifer Natalya Pritzker, decorated colonel and one of the richest people in the world, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/08/23/jennifer-natalya-pritzker_n_3806126.html" target="_blank">announced her transgender identity in an uncharacteristically public appearance</a> in late August. Following her announcement, Pritzker <a href="http://www.lgbtqnation.com/2013/07/palm-center-to-lead-1-3-million-study-on-transgender-military-service/" target="_blank">awarded a $1.35 million grant</a> to the Palm Center, the UCLA-based think tank, that will fund a multi-year research initiative about service by transgender people in the military. The ban on openly transgender military service remains in effect.
Navy Seal Comes Out As Transgender
In another challenge to the U.S. ban on transgender service members, Kristin Beck, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/04/transgender-navy-seal-kristin-beck_n_3383015.html?utm_hp_ref=transgender" target="_blank">who served 20 years as a Navy SEAL</a> and was once a member of the elite SEAL Team 6, came out as transgender in her memoir <em>Warrior Princess: A U.S. Navy SEAL's Journey to Coming out Transgender</em>. "[P]erhaps this memoir, which documents the secret torment of one of the U.S. military's most effective and loyal agents, will lay the groundwork for even greater inclusion in the armed forces," <a href="http://www.thewire.com/national/2013/06/transgender-navy-seal-memoir/65823/" target="_blank">The Atlantic Wire's J.K. Trotter wrote</a>.
Transgender Teenage Couple Transitions Together
Arin Andrews and Katie Hill <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/07/23/transgender-teenage-couple-arin-andrews-katie-hill_n_3639220.html?utm_hp_ref=transgender" target="_blank">warmed hearts around the world last summer with their unique and touching love story</a>. The pair met at a trans support group, after each had begun the transitioning process, and fell in love.
Ari South Becomes First Openly Transgender Project Runway Contestant
When Ari South first appeared on "Project Runway" season eight, the designer embodied a different name and different identity. When she <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/10/24/ari-south-transgender_n_4151196.html" target="_blank">returned to "Project Runway All Stars" in October</a>, she was living as her authentic self and blazing through uncharted territory for transgender people both within -- and outside -- the fashion world.
Top Russian Lawyer Comes Out As Trans, Announces Presidential Campaign
In wake of the pervasive climate of fear and violence <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/09/05/occupy-paedophilia-hunting-gays-russia_n_3875223.html" target="_blank">plaguing LGBT Russians</a>, top Russian lawyer Masha Best <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/09/13/masha-bast-transgender-russia-lawyer_n_3920998.html" target="_blank">came out as both transgender and bisexual</a> in protest of the country's institutionalized homophobia. Best later went on to <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/09/24/masha-best-presidential-campaign_n_3979339.html" target="_blank">announce her campaign for the Russian presidency</a> in 2018. Here, Best <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/11/22/masha-best-transgender-remembrace-_n_4324387.html" target="_blank">poses nude in honor of the 2013 Transgender Day of Remembrance</a>.
California's Rights For Transgender Minors
For the first time in history, legislators in multiple states weighed the benefits of providing access to gendered spaces and organizations for public school students that identify as transgender, such as using the bathroom or playing on the sports team that corresponds with their gender identities. California <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/07/03/transgender-bathroom-rights_n_3543601.html" target="_blank">passed such legislation</a> in early July, inspiring <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/08/14/fox-and-friends-transgender_n_3755273.html" target="_blank">this iconic freakout by "Fox and Friends"</a> and Michelle Malkin.
Arizona's Rights For Transgender Minors
Other states also met these bills with resistance, with one Arizona lawmaker, John Kavanagh, attempting to push through legislation that would prosecute transgender people for using a public restroom if their appearance didn't match the listed gender on their identification. One local new station dubbed this the "<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/04/03/john-kavanagh-arizona-transgender-bathroom-bill_n_3006516.html" target="_blank">Show Me Your Papers Before You Go Potty</a>" bill. The backlash <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/27/arizona-transgender-bathroom-bill_n_2967997.html" target="_blank">convinced the lawmaker</a> to tone down the language of his bill, and <a href="http://planetransgender.blogspot.com/2013/06/az-rep-john-kavanaghs-bathroom-bill.html" target="_blank">put it on hold</a> until next year.
Argentina Grants Transgender ID Card Reflecting Gender Identity
In January 2012, Argentina passed a <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/05/argentina-gender-identity-law-takes-effect_n_1570830.html" target="_blank">Gender Identity Law</a> that enables citizens to change their names and government-sanctioned sex on official documents without approval from a judge or doctor. In late September, 6-year-old Lulu <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/10/10/argentina-child-transgender_n_4077466.html" target="_blank">became the first minor to legally change</a> their sex on a government document since officials initially passed the legislation.
California Governor Petitioned By Transgender Teen
Prior to California passing legislation that extended rights in public schools to transgender minors, Ashton Lee, a transgender teenager, petitioned California Governor Jerry Brown to sign the legislation. Not only did Lee <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/08/01/ashton-lee-transgender-bill-1267_n_3689125.html?utm_hp_ref=transgender" target="_blank">deliver a petition to Brown that contained over 5,700 signatures</a>, but the teen also testified in front of the California Senate Education Committee about the bill's necessity to protect and value transgender individuals within the public school system.
University Expels Transgender Student For 'Fraud'
Domaine Javier, a nursing student at California Baptist University, revealed to the world that she was transgender in an MTV episode of "True Life." The university's response? <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/02/27/domaine-javier-lawsuit_n_2775756.html?utm_hp_ref=transgender" target="_blank">Accusations of fraud followed by expulsion</a> because Javier had given her gender as female on her admissions application. She went on to sue the institution.
Mixed Martial Arts Fighter Comes Out
During a historic year for LGBT athletes, Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fighter Fallon Fox <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/06/fallon-fox-transgender-mma-fighter-_n_2819315.html?utm_hp_ref=transgender" target="_blank">came out as transgender in an early March interview with Outsports</a>. "I'm technically, legally, physically and mentally female. Everything about me is female," she stated. "I happen to fall into the transgender category, but I rather describe myself as a woman first, transsexual woman second."