South Carolina Teen Alleges Sex Discrimination After DMV Forced Him To Remove Makeup

| by Amanda Schallert

An organization that aims to combat discrimination will file a lawsuit Tuesday on behalf of a South Carolina teenager who was forced to remove his makeup for a driver’s license photo in March.

The Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund will announce the federal lawsuit, which alleges that 16-year-old Chase Culpepper was discriminated against based on his sex at the Department of Motor Vehicles. The suit also claims that the DMV employs a policy that is too broad and violates the state’s constitution, according to WYFF 4.

Chase said he went to the DMV office in Anderson with his mother to get his driver’s license photo taken in March, but before DMV employees agreed to take his picture, they told him he could not wear makeup because he did not look like a boy.

"It was wrong to be taken aside and told how I look doesn't fit with traditional gender roles and how I look is not even good enough to take a driver's license picture taken,” he said. “And unfortunately, a lot of people like me have to go through this."

Chase said he does not conform to a specific gender and he wears girls’ clothing and makeup every day.

"They said he was wearing a disguise. It was very hurtful. He was absolutely devastated. That’s who he is 24/7,” said Teresa Culpepper, Chase’s mother.

Though a DMV spokeswoman has said that the employees were following policy, the lawsuit filed alleges that the policy allows DMV workers to have too much power in deciding how a person should appear in a driver license photo.

"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,” the policy reads.

The lawsuit also alleges that Chase was barred from expressing his right to free speech at the DMV.

“It is not the role of the DMV or any government agency or employee to decide how men and women should look,” said Michael Silverman, the executive director of the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund. “Chase should be able to get a driver’s license without being subjected to sex discrimination.”

Source: WYFF 4