When 16-year-old Chase Culpepper went to a South Carolina DMV to get his driver’s license in March, he was told to remove his makeup before officials would take his photo. Now, the gender non-conforming teen and his mother are taking the DMV to court.
“I want to take my license photo again, with makeup, so I can be myself and express to the world who I truly am,” Culpepper said in a statement.
“My clothing and makeup reflect who I am,” he said in the release. “The Department of Motor Vehicles should not have forced me to remove my makeup simply because my appearance does not match what they think 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.”
“Chase Culpepper is entitled to be himself and to express his gender non-conformity without interference from the South Carolina DMV,” said Michael Silverman, executive director of the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund, in a statement. “It is not the role of the DMV or any government agency or employee to decide how men and women should look. Chase should be able to get a driver’s license without being subjected to sex discrimination.”
TLDEF held a press conference Tuesday on the steps of the South Carolina State House in Columbia, South Carolina, to announce the lawsuit.