After successfully completing his driver’s license test, a South Carolina teen was met with opposition when it came time to take his photograph. As detailed in this Washington Post article, Chase Culpepper, 16, identifies as a gender nonconforming teen, wearing makeup on a consistent basis. Before taking his photograph, the Department of Motor Vehicles insisted that the boy remove his makeup.
Culpepper stated, “She said that I could not wear a disguise to take my photo, and according to her, me wearing makeup would be a disguise and that I did not look like a boy should.”
When asked about the incident, a spokesman for the DMV referred to this 2009 policy, “At no time will an applicant be photographed when it appears the he or she is purposely altering his or her appearance so that the photo would misrepresent his or her identity.” Such policies are put in place to prevent criminal activity, the DMV making exception for religious and medical reasons.
In a letter addressed to the Anderson DMV, Executive Director of the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund, Michael Silverman wrote in part, “Chase’s freedom to express his gender should not be restricted by DMV staff. He is entitled to be who he is and to express that without interference form government actors. Forcing Chase to remove his makeup prior to taking his driver’s license photo restricts his free speech rights in violation of state and federal constitutional protections.”
If you or someone you know believes that their constitutional rights have been violated, the team at Radford & Keebaugh can help. Contact us by phone at (678) 369-3609 or use our contact form.