Like so many people around the country, 16-year-old Chase Culpepper of South Carolina is preparing for a fight with the Department of Motor Vehicles. Culpeper's case, though, is more troubling than the norm.

You see, Culpepper is gender-nonconforming. He was born a male, and identifies as one, but wears gender-neutral or women's clothing, as well as makeup, every day.

Culpepper identifies as a male, but wears gender-neutral or women's clothing, as well as makeup, every day.

He aced his driving test, but when it came time to report to the local branch of the South Carolina DMV, he ran into trouble with officials. Employees at the Anderson, SC branch informed Culpepper that he'd need to remove his makeup for his license picture.

"They said he was wearing a disguise," Theresa Culpepper, Chase's mother, told local NBC affiliate WYFF-4. This is despite the fact that Culpepper dresses this way everyday.

According to Beth Parks, a spokesperson with the South Carolina DMV, the employees in Anderson were simply obeying a policy that states that a license applicant can't be "photographed when it appears that he or she is purposely altering his or her appearance so that the photo would misrepresent his or her identity."

"When this young man has to show his ID, his ID shows that he's male. The card says he's male, he needs to look like a male," Parks said.

If applicants proceed through the court system and have their name and gender legally changed, the DMV and police will honor that, Parks added. The only problem is, Culpepper doesn't seem to have any desire to be known as a woman.

While the 16-year-old went along with the policy and removed his makeup for the photo (you can see a before-and-after photo above), he regretted his decision, and has since requested that the DMV allow him to retake his license picture, issuing the following statement, obtained by Huffpost Gay Voices:

"The Department of Motor Vehicles should not have forced me to remove my makeup simply because my appearance does not meet their expectations of what a boy should look like. I just want the freedom to be who I am without the DMV telling me that I'm somehow not good enough."

Culpepper has also recruited the assistance of the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund, which issued a letter to the DMV requesting that Culpepper be allowed to retake his photo, saying:

"In the end, Chase was told that he could not wear makeup simply because boys typically do not wear makeup. It was not because his makeup acted as any type of disguise of his identity. Sex stereotypes like this do not justify a government agency's restriction of constitutionally protected expression."

It's unclear right now if Culpepper will be allowed to retake his photo. Take a look below for the news report on the story.


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  • 210 Comments
      vi_per
      • 6 Months Ago
      You know what's worse? Autoplay videos.
        Brodz
        • 6 Months Ago
        @vi_per
        Autoplay videos are so bad. What kind of world is it where we put up with that?
      Jerry
      • 6 Months Ago
      I tend to try to look drunk or be plowed when I get my driver's license picture. It is a defense strategy.
      Bernard
      • 6 Months Ago
      Since a driver's license is also a primary form of visual identification, maybe no one should be allowed to wear makeup in their photo.
      NightFlight
      • 6 Months Ago
      You need to be identifiable, period. Don't matter what race, religion, sex, or sexual preference.
      Technoir
      • 6 Months Ago
      If the rule says "no make up" for everyone (women, men), then so shall be it, no exceptions. But if women are allowed to wear make up for the picture, then so should this guy. Many men wear some form of make up already, and it doesn't say anywhere that make up is reserved for women only.
      Agilis
      • 6 Months Ago
      Ok this is just stupid. I understand both sides but look, if on the license he is listed as a male, then, his license picture needs to clearly show him as a male so anyone, old, young, stupid, smart, can clearly make the *correct* comparison and to prevent possible ridicule or judgement. This kid should have to remove the make-up for those reasons only. Now even more stupid... "In the end, Chase was told that he could not wear makeup simply because boys typically do not wear makeup. It was not because his makeup acted as any type of disguise of his identity. Sex stereotypes like this do not justify a government agency's restriction of constitutionally protected expression." Which is absolutely the wrong reason in today's society why this kid was forced to remove his make-up. If that is there reason, and they are too stupid to get a clue, then I say the kid can wear his make-up proudly.
        tump
        • 6 Months Ago
        @Agilis
        That's like saying that a woman that's 75 can't wear makeup to make herself look 30. There is no requirement for male or female to "look" the stereotype. Since clothing is not mandated by law (because we're not a theocracy, mind you), a person can wear whatever they want. The license should reflect the person YOU SEE in front of you.
        Agilis
        • 6 Months Ago
        @Agilis
        Their*
      Chris
      • 6 Months Ago
      I can understand where the DMV was coming from here, but if that's how he normally dresses then I don't see the issue. The two pictures don't even look all that much different anyway. My appearance changed a lot more when I didn't shave for about 4 months, and started to look like the "Unabomber".
      Revis Goodworth
      • 6 Months Ago
      Unless this punk loses his set and becomes a faux woman, then he needs to be taught that his is a man and his makeup and dress are not acceptable. He can wear his costume any time he wants; but at the DMV he needs to man up and at least be a dude for a photograph. Afterwards, he can return to his own weird world where he can be the she he always wanted to be. This world is getting all messed up when the freaks think they dictate the terms of society.
        little weeper
        • 2 Months Ago
        @Revis Goodworth
        Your mother reeked of fish the day she birthed you and that why you are the way you are.
        reattadudes
        • 6 Months Ago
        @Revis Goodworth
        I can only imagine being your child, and being gay. nothin' beatin' the crap out of 'em won't cure, right? such masculinity issues; why are you so concerned about someone else? idea sound too tempting?
        Making11s
        • 6 Months Ago
        @Revis Goodworth
        The state should tell you how to dress? Interesting perspective.
        Mr.Roadrage
        • 6 Months Ago
        @Revis Goodworth
        And why exactly do all males have to look the same? Not every man has to sport a crew cut, moustache and baseball cap. Would you mandate that a woman with short hair and "masculine" clothing must look more feminine befor being photographed?
      Fins99
      • 6 Months Ago
      This is so absurd....If he wants to walk around looking like a girl, lizard or banana thats fine...but I smell a rat here. This is a set up to bring publicity to his cause and hit the lawsuit lottery.
      Jesus!
      • 6 Months Ago
      The DMV is correct for upholding the law. Those are the rules. This boy needs to worry about graduating high school and getting into college. This "We want everyone to feel good" crap is what is sending our nation in the toilet. Right should be right and wrong should be wrong. Take the makeup off, get your picture made, and get over it.
        Bungle
        • 6 Months Ago
        @Jesus!
        Agreed that this is far from the biggest injustice in the world. But, he chooses to wear makeup, and that's his choice as an individual. As do many women, who aren't told to take their makeup off for their driver's license photo. The issue that the DMW is raising is he "doesn't look like a man," which is an opinion, and should not be legally enforceable. If the makeup obscured his face or disguised his identity, that's one thing. That's a reasonable argument and the apparent spirit of the law. But I think any reasonable person can tell that it's him either with or without makeup.
        little weeper
        • 2 Months Ago
        @Jesus!

        your wife is a trolip

      car czar
      • 6 Months Ago
      Lol I remember when my dad said "boy put down your momma's lipstick, you are a man" I have never picked it up again. Where is this boy's Dad? We need to stop this madness of supporting our kids in all the stupid crap they want to do. My dad favorite quote "take your butt to school get a education and get out my house then you can do whatever the hell you want too. " Bring back the real fathers the ones who raised their kids instead of letting society raise them.
        reattadudes
        • 6 Months Ago
        @car czar
        yep, bring back those "real fathers" who beat the crap out of them, and did nothing but make miserable children who only did things to please others, not themselves. as a gay man, I never had any desire to wear makeup of any kind. looks like you need to ask questions about yourself. I have plenty of friends who had dads just like you described. they went thru the motions, got married, and lived absolutely miserable lives. when they came to grips who they really were, there were a bunch of hurt people, expensive divorces, and twenty of their best years gone. when I told my dad I was gay, he was delighted. he said women were all a bunch of "rhymes with runts" anyway. I was very lucky to have a very loving dad who wanted nothing more from me than being happy.
          RL to RL
          • 6 Months Ago
          @reattadudes
          Yes, because your definition of "real fathers" is absolutely the one and only correct definition, and anyone else who thinks otherwise is wrong. Your one anecdotal evidence, and your friend's experience means squat. Because you /= everyone. *Gasp* What a revelation!
          Superstevie
          • 6 Months Ago
          @reattadudes
          @RL to RL I think the definition of "real fathers" is one that is there for their child, teaches them right and wrong, and supports them to find happiness in life. And above all else, loves them unconditionally. @reattadudes Great to hear your dad was supportive. Mine wasn't when I came out, but that is for religious reason. We get on ok now, but we don't discuss it.
        Jesus!
        • 6 Months Ago
        @car czar
        Car czar parents are so scared to discipline their children these days it's ridiculous. The thing is, when you actually do discipline the child you are showing love. You are showing you care enough as to what happens to your child and the person they will become. The world is broken and keeps getting worse. I didn't have my dad but I had my grandpa and thank God that I had him because I have no clue how I would be today otherwise. He taught me right from wrong and how to work hard. Many parents today don't want to offend or hurt their children's feelings. Stop being a friend and be a parent.
      reattadudes
      • 6 Months Ago
      sooo many posters here with teenie weenies, feeling their supposed masculinity threatened. when did a DMV become judge and jury? it figures it would be a right wing, hateful/spiteful/judgmental jeebus-lovin' state like South Carolina. perhaps if a woman comes in without makeup and wearing jeans, she should be sent away until she can come back with full makeup, and a nice frilly frock. its exactly the same thing...and who could possibly be a better judge than a DMV clerk? I greatly admire Chase Culpepper; he has more (and larger) cajones than any of the guys here who have their own serious masculinity issues. none of the penilely-challenged guys here griping could EVER do anything "all of their friends wouldn't do". all they ever have is a herd mentality, and could never think for themselves.
        Neez
        • 6 Months Ago
        @reattadudes
        The irony is that people who watch too much NBC news are so full of ignorance, hatred, anger, hipocracy, and bigotry. DMV has a policy of people trying to wear disquises in photos. Ok, no fake mustaches, overblownglasses, etc... The problem is, this policy is written so broadly, the employees working there don't know how to exactly interpret what's considered a disquise. It has nothing to do with left or right wing. Just a low paid employee that doesn't know what they're doing.
          reattadudes
          • 6 Months Ago
          @Neez
          "It has nothing to do with left or right wing". .then you go on to talk about those "who watch too much NBC are so full of ignorance, hatred, anger, hipocracy, and bigotry". perhaps you could explain that one to me. all of the things you just described are strictly right wing attributes, folks who HATE anyone different, and not just like them. a disguise, according to Webster's definition, "is to alter ones appearance to look different than they normally do". considering Chase wears makeup to school every day, it seems removing it would certainly be a disguise, NOT how he normally looks. I hope he hires a great attorney, and sues the crap out of the state. I was a teenager in the 70s, and knew lots of straight guys who wore makeup and glitter during the David Bowie days. oddly, as a gay man, I didn't. KISS and Marilyn Manson are certainly pillars of masculinity, aren't they?
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