Transgender Teen To Sue SC Over License Photo

By BTL Staff

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - After a recent South Carolina incident, the Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund will support a South Carolina teenager's lawsuit against the state's Department of Motor Vehicles.

A transgender teen was not issued a driver's license until he removed his makeup. The 16 year old, Chase Culpepper, his mother and the director of the fund also plan to talk to reporters in Columbia.

According to WSOC-TV in South Carolina, Culpepper identifies as male and considers himself gender non-conforming. According to Culpepper, DMV employees would not take his picture. "They told me that I could not wear disguises and I need to look more like a boy," he said. "I just want my license photo to accurately reflect me." The teen adds that he wears makeup and women's clothing daily, so his license photo would accurately reflect his appearance. The DMV currently has a policy that bans license pictures where someone is purposefully altering his or her appearance. Culpepper went to the bathroom twice to remove the makeup before his picture was taken.

"I was horrified and saddened by what happened to him," said his mother, Teresa Culpepper. "It was heartbreaking to see my son humiliated because he wears makeup."

The fund says that SC's rule is unconstitutional because it is too vague and lets DMV employees arbitrarily decide how someone should look. Michael Silverman, head of the transgender fund, notes "ItÕs a violation of his personal rights and his right to free speech under the constitution. It's not the role of the DMV or any government agency or employee to decide how men and women ought to look."

The family is not seeking any damages or money but only that Chase Culpepper be allowed to retake his driver's license photo while wearing makeup.

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