Meet 16-year-old Chase Culpepper who often wears makeup and women’s clothing and identifies as gender non-conforming.
When the South Carolina teen went to take his photo for his license in Anderson, S.C., earlier this summer, he says the Department of Motor Vehicles forced him to remove his facial makeup before they would take the picture because it was considered a “disguise.”
On Tuesday, Sept. 2, his mother, Teresa Culpepper, sued the DMV on his behalf for denying him the freedom to wear makeup and violating his freedom of speech.
“I was horrified and saddened by what happened to him,” Teresa said. "It was heartbreaking to see my son humiliated because he wears makeup."
Photo Credit: Courtesy of The Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund
A DMV spokesperson told WYFF that employees followed a policy that’s been in place since 2009. It reads, “At no time will an applicant 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.”
Chase and his mother argue it’s the au naturel photo that strongly misrepresents the person he is — and they want to have the policy changed.
With the help of The Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund, the pair got the ball rolling. They are not seeking any damages or money. All they want is for Chase to be allowed to retake his driver’s license photo wearing makeup.
Says the teen, “I just want my license photo to accurately reflect me.”
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