The DMV in Anderson, South Carolina, forced a 16-year-old boy to take off his makeup in order to get his driver’s license picture taken because “he needs to look like a male,” according to an official. Chase Culpepper is gender non-conforming and wears makeup and stereotypically female clothing every day. But on March 3, the DMV refused to photograph Chase because he looked like he was “wearing a disguise,” according to Chase’s mom, Teresa Culpepper. ”He’s male, he needs to look like a male,” said spokesperson Beth Parks.
The spokesperson cited a rule that forbids a person misrepresenting his or her identity in the photo; the only exceptions are for “religious” and “medical” reasons. Isn’t the spirit of those rules meant to prevent criminals from misrepresenting themselves on IDs? Surely they weren’t intended to hassle non-gender conforming individuals, who are by definition not “misrepresenting” themselves. (If anything it is stupid not to photograph Chase’s face in makeup, if that’s how he always looks.)
According to a press release from the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund, the Anderson DMV violated Chase’s First Amendment rights and supports his request to reshoot his photo wearing makeup. ”He is entitled to be who he is and to express that without interference from government actors,” the executive director said.
Teresa Culpepper told WYFF News it was “very hurtful” and her son was “absolutely devastated” to be discriminated against this way at the DMV. “That’s who he is 24/7,” she said. Yay for his mom for supporting her son.
Reprinted with permission from The Frisky. Want more?