- Jun 17, 2014
SC DMV orders gender-nonconforming teen to remove makeup for driver's license photo [w/video]
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.
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.
Culpepper identifies as a male, but wears gender-neutral or women's clothing, as well as makeup, every day.
"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:
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:
"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."
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.
"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."