HRC Blog

South Carolina DMV Allegedly Asked Gender Non-Conforming Teen to Remove Makeup

FlagChase Culpepper, a gender non-conforming teen, was allegedly told he could not be photographed at the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) while wearing makeup. Culpepper , a 16-year-old who wears makeup and female clothing on a daily basis, eventually removed the makeup to have his license picture taken.

In a release from the Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund, Culpepper said, ““This is who I am and my clothing and makeup reflect that. 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.”

The DMV claimed that wearing makeup was a “disguise” and will not allow be allowed to re-take the photo with makeup on. In an interview with Huffington Post, a DMV representative stated that it is unlikely Culpepper will be able to retake the picture due to a law that was written in 2009. The clause reads: "At no time can an applicant be photographed when it appears that he or she is purposefully altering his or her appearance so that the photo would misrepresent his or her identity."

Buzzfeed reports that the family is considering legal action.

HRC is currently working to expand the conventional understanding of gender. HRC’s report, Supporting and Caring for our Gender-Expansive Youth, uses the experiences of young people to provide adults with a better understanding of gender. It is also aimed at helping adults find ways to communicate with and support all youth in their lives

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